On Wednesday, October 16 in Nairobi, a new precedent was set for youth training and employment. The findings from reports by the Aga Khan University (AKU), the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), and Dalberg, were launched in a Synthesis Report that consolidated evidence from three studies on youth capabilities for work and life.
The presented studies, conducted over one year, consulted with nearly 13,000 youth aged 15-30 years, in 41 counties in Kenya. Throughout the day, the revelation emerged for the need to implement innovative strategies; as various professionals, academia, and youth shared their knowledge.
Mudit Sharma, from Dalberg, recommended curriculum development in technical and vocational education training institutions (TVET) by facilitating transitions from training to employment for youth. Dr. Alex Awiti, presented the AKU East Africa Institute study on the gap between skills possessed by youth entering the workface, and the demands of the job market. From APHRC, Dr. Moses Ngware concluded integrating whole youth development into teaching practices is needed.
Dr. James Ciera, reviewing the Synthesis Report, indicated disadvantaged populations in employment accessibility are female youth, youth from poor families, and youth living in arid areas – highlighting the need for affirmative action policies. The Synthesis Report noted that 46% of youth have not received the information they need from TVET. Considering the study findings on the importance of life and social-emotional competencies in job recruiting, TVET programs must adequately equip youth with holistic skills required to succeed. There were also calls for improvement the quality of teaching and review of the TVET institution.
Youth passionately spoke about their challenges in the job market. Youth Representative, Nancy Wangome, and a representative of the informal traders, Mr. Samuel Mburu, shared stories of the youth they mentor and/or employ that cope with structural issues deriving from lack of job creation, start-up capital, and underemployment. Youth panellist, Aisha Njoki, recollected her personal adversities in finding industrial attachments, and securing employment that utilized her formal education.
The youth believed job market information is inadequate; perpetuated by biases of poorly trained professionals and families. Professor Ahmed Ferei, echoing the sentiments of the panellists, discussed family as a key driver in youth decision making, thus, becoming a major influence on their future aspiration. Educating the community, especially parents, about the current job market and role of TVETs was recommended, as well as further research into the future of work, job aspirations, and the role of the informal sector in training.