• NGO says employers will select the best trainees.
• The innovation labs to empower youth by giving the requisite skills for the job market.
The Coast regional economic bloc has partnered with an NGO to impart skills to the youth in efforts meant to reduce unemployment.
Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani has launched innovation labs, which will be used by Generation Kenya for the training. They will focus on vocational training and business development support.
The NGO will link up with employers so they impart job-specific skills to end the supply-demand mismatch that has been the main problem in the job market.
Bloc CEO Emmanuel Nzai on Tuesday said unemployment is a ticking time bomb and must be tackled before it gets out of hand.
“We’ve done our research and discovered where the problem is, and have come up with solutions, which we will be addressed from now until December,” he said during the launch of the Jumuiya Innovation labs in Mombasa.
Some 400 youths will be trained in the first session that ends in December. More labs will be set up across the region. The empowerment programme will also boost the region’s economy.
Nzai and Generation Kenya CEO Ramakrishan Hariran said they have been working on the initiative for the past six months.
Unemployment is rampant in the region and low transition rates from primary to tertiary institutions have worsened the situation.
“This is the foundation from which we want to build. In the next three years, we target 10,000 youths across the region,” Nzai said.
“This will go a long way in tackling the high employment rate which is at 45 per cent in the region.”
Hariran said high youth unemployment is a big challenge and blamed it for worsening poverty, marginalisation and rise in crime.
As of September last year, statistical updates by the United Nations Development Programme placed Kenya’s youth unemployment rate at 26.2 per cent. This was based on 2017 data.
Hariran said the organisation has trained more than 15,000 graduates and more than 84 per cent of them have got job placements.
“We know the problem of youth unemployment is very huge in Kenya and the only way we can take this programme large-scale is through partnerships with partners like Jumuiya,” he said.
“First, we go and talk to the employer. It could be on any sector where there are employers willing to look for entry-level talent.”
Hariran said once they understand what the employers want, they establish career prospects of the youth and develop a commensurate training programme.
“The training programme can be anywhere between four-eight weeks. The focus of the training is on two critical skills. The first is the technical skills that prepare our youth to do the job they are supposed to do. The second and most important is the behavioural skills. We want our youths to be very strong on soft and communication skills,” he said.
Once the programme is ready, they visit communities and recruit the youth. Employers then come to the training centres, interview the trainees and take the ones with the most impressive technical and behavioural skills.
Generation Kenya’s Gabriella Csomor said although employers demand people with practical skills, less than half of the youth attend institutions that provide such skills.
“Most employers feel youths are not prepared for the jobs. That’s why they don’t employ as many youths as they require, leading to the problem of youth unemployment,” she said.
She said research has shown that 40 per cent of youth’s first employment is usually in fields completely unrelated to what they studied at tertiary level.
“Jumuiya Innovation Labs will be working towards finding solutions to this,” Csomor said.
(Edited by F'Orieny)