February 24th 2018

Magazine / Entrepreneurship

Skills gap, not capital, seen as the main challenge in youth empowerment

On traffic jams that bedevil the region, Ms Mwangi said even this can be turned into opportunity. She said that while there are many vehicles in the country, there are few auto mechanics because of lack of technical know-how of repairing them and so there are few auto garages.

By Winfred Mbuya Mwanikiwmwaniki@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 21 Jul 2016 21:54 EAT

A youth-themed segment of the ongoing UNCTAD conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre once again highlighted the mismatch between rising educational qualifications and the capacity for graduates to live meaningful lives.

High unemployment is a challenge for governments the world over, and only few have taken curriculum reforms that meet the demands of today’s economy, the meeting was told. However, there are more opportunities for the youth to develop themselves than those which they have seized to better their lives.

As explained by Ms. Jane Mwangi, the Director of KCB Foundation, in Kenya, given the high rates of unemployment, the youth are not supposed to be trained on how to get jobs but to create wealth. Ms Mwangi shared practical ideas on how youth unemployment can be addressed by turning challenges into opportunities.

The KCB Foundation has started an initiative to develop the youth by helping them come up with their own businesses through funding and provision of skills for youth-inspired projects.

Mwangi gave instances of the many big projects that in the country and which are opportunities for youth employment. "In a country like Kenya, in East Africa and in Africa at large there is a lot of construction. The construction takes a long time to be completed because of lack  of relevant skills in the workforce," she said. 

Mwangi gave the solution of such as training the youth and giving them skills which are important in construction to enable them benefit from the construction opportunities. She gave a practical example of getting jobs by solving the problems which are experienced daily by the citizens.

On traffic jams that bedevil the region, Ms Mwangi said even this can be turned into an opportunity. She said that while there are many vehicles in the country, there are few qualified auto mechanics because of lack of technical know-how of repairing them.

To solve the problem of youth unemployment therefore with such an opportunity in automotive sector, the youth are to be given skills and then helped to come up with their own garages and earn their own money.

"The small businesses are collapsing because they don’t have accountants, they don’t have people to manage them yet university graduates are at home saying that there are no jobs," she said.

There is an already existing market for the potential Labour that the youth can offer if only they have the skills and the links to the big projects in the country such as the construction and the automotive area, she said.

This calls to action the authority to make sure that the available gaps in the economy can be filled by the youth who are more focused by allocating funds to such organizations whose goal and purpose is to make the youth independent.

There is a notable growth where the organization already has 2,175 students enrolled for the program and they are targeting  10,000 per year under the same, she said.

The Director of Investment, Governance and Citizen Engagement Initiative in Africa, Omidyar Network, Ory Okolloh, said that over reliance on white collar jobs results in forgetting  the art work which forms our foundation.

She therefore recommended reconsidering the opportunities in art and therefore merging the gap therein between the white collar and the casual jobs. In such a case also the job of consultancy is automatically provided as more people will need to have their hands in something.

Okolloh pointed out that the youth receive a lot of instructions from all over being required to do things yet they do not get a chance to say what they want.

Mr Aashish Khullar, Board Member and Organizing Partner Children and Youth, from the United States, reminded the youth that they were important in the growth of the country.

Therefore as evident that the youth contribute so much to the country"s development and the future, it is paramount to prepare not the future for the youth but prepare the youth for the future.

"Kenya is a hotbed of talents," said Peter Kuria, a participant, in relation to the potential lying in the youth. Kuria said that what the youth want is not to be forced to do jobs but rather friendship with those people who matter in their lives, freedom to make their own choices and success which in this case refers to teaching them to become successful with what they already have.

Furthermore, Anita Nderu, a young mentor and a journalist, emphasized  the need to start where one is without considering the finances as they would come later when one has already started. "How can I do it with what I have?" she said rhetorically, explaining the need to avoid procrastination.

She said that one needs to put pressure on themselves and to make things happen as they have planned them. "Stop procrastinating, if you gonna start, start today," she said. The mentors whose goal is to campaign for youth development in the country talkeld of the need to start new adventures without the fear of failing.


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