Youth comprise the largest percentage of Kenya’s population and Kenya just like many countries is experiencing a youth bulge, a state where most of the country’s population is young. Unemployment among youth is therefore mushrooming nationally a situation that is compounded by a surge in the number of students completing their secondary education level.
More than 1.5 million learners will sit for KCSE exams in March and December and out of them only a few percentage might be lucky to join universities for degree courses while the rest will be competing for slots in Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions to study non-degree courses.
Despite the crucial role played by the government in equipping youth with technical skills to secure livelihood, there is a perception that non-degree courses are inferior a notion that must be dispelled. The emphasis on degrees and white-collar jobs should be blamed for the high unemployment rates among youth given the limited opportunities in the formal job market.
Although investing in technical, vocational and professional courses at non-degree level might be critical in not only helping Kenya to transform into an industrial economy but also in bridging the huge gap in many sought-after skill sets in the industry.
Unfortunately, youth from underprivileged communities are likely to be locked out of opportunities to acquire skills that would enable them to build sustainable livelihoods. Hence the need for concerted partnerships geared to empowering underprivileged youth to break the cycle of poverty through achieving sustainable livelihoods.
We must break barriers that prevent youth from becoming successful in life by unlocking opportunities for them. This entails equipping them with quality technical, professional and entrepreneurial training through creativity and innovation to pursue sustainable livelihoods. In addition, we must provide opportunities for mentorship of youths.
Most importantly, we need to empower them with skills and values to secure a productive future. Given the skilling gap in the industry, more so, technical skills, and partnerships are pivotal in bridging the shortfall in well-trained manpower. However, we also need to change their mindset from jobseekers to job-creators, by imparting entrepreneurial skills to start businesses and employ others as they learn to meet their basic needs while acquiring skills that will be helpful in building their future careers.
In conclusion, youth need guidance on managing stress in life, handling disputes, and cultivating resilience and the ability to bounce back from adversity. Mentorship offers a good platform for developing life skills. Creating well-rounded individuals ensures that youth have both technical skills to earn a living and the ability to be self-reliant and productive in life.
By Ebby Tsuma