It would be a safe bet to say that if you are over 20 years, you have tarmacked for work or know someone who has or is currently doing so. You may have also sent countless CVs and accepted any job that came around just to make some money, even if it wasn’t what you wanted to do or what you had studied. Regardless of the level of study, unemployment has affected a lot of youth in this country, turning tarmacking for jobs into a full-time job for some.
According to a recent survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya’s unemployment rate currently stands at 7.4%. The unemployment rate is highest in the 20-24 age bracket at 19.2%. Seven million Kenyans are unemployed, with 1.4 million of these desperately looking for any job that comes up. Youth unemployment is a huge problem in this country, with frustrated young men and women forced to engage in harmful and illegal vices to make some money.
Under its new strategy that focuses on youth empowerment in Kenya, Safaricom Foundation launched the Wezesha Programme in partnership with Generation Kenya. The programme is aimed at equipping unemployed youth between the ages of 18-35 with the knowledge, skills and tools required to succeed in a job. They will also be positioned for continuous personal and professional success. The main objective of this partnership will be to support youth to access entry-level job opportunities.
The first phase of this partnership will support intensive job training for 1,600 youth between 18-25 years in vocational training centres across the country. The students will be trained on and receive job-ready skills in financial services sales, distributed sales, retail and restaurant services, sewing machine operation and customer care.
Speaking during the launch of the programme at Dandora Green Light Vocational Training Center, Safaricom Foundation Trustee Sylvia Mulinge said that the three aims of the Wezesha Programme were to equip the youth with job skills for employment and self-employment, address youth unemployment in Kenya and provide skilled labour to the formal and informal sector.
Alfred Cheruiyot, Principal Secretary in the State Department of Post Training and Skills Development, promised that the government would support the Wezesha Programme as it was in line with the Big Four Agenda to support the youth to meet the needs of the market. Also present at the event was USAID Kenya and East Africa Deputy Mission Director Heather Schildge, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, Kartik Jayaram and Ramakrishnan Hariharan, CEO of Generation Kenya.
The Generation Kenya program is funded by USAID and McKinsey & Company and works closely with the government of Kenya through Technical Vocational Education and Trainings (TVETs) by providing these instructions with a best-in-class curriculum and methodology for training young people for employment. Majority of those who participate in the Generation Kenya program are secondary school leavers struggling to find work. They undergo a four to eight-week-long intensive training sectors such as financial services, retail, hospitality, consumer goods, customer service and apparel manufacturing. After the training, students are guaranteed an interview with one of the various Generation Kenya employer partners. To date, more than 9000 youth have graduated from Generation Kenya, with 88% of them placed into meaningful employment.
“We are committed to our mission of empowering young people to build thriving and sustainable careers and providing employers the highly skilled and motivated talent they need. By training young people on employability skills and connecting them with jobs, we are helping solve the skills gap and unemployment problems that exist in our country,” said Ramakrishnan Hariharan, Generation Kenya’s CEO.
Safaricom Foundation partners with Kenyan communities, organizations and institutions to improve and transform lives. Since its inception in 2003, it has worked with speed, simplicity and trust to implement over 1,000 community projects impacting over 4.5 million people all over Kenya. The Wezesha Programme partnership between Safaricom Foundation and Generation Kenya will help address the need for sustainable youth employment through an innovative, replicable and rapidly scalable youth employment model for young high school graduates. Safaricom Foundation has committed Kshs 39 million for the next three years towards the programme.
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