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First Cohort of PWDs youth graduate

The first Cohort of 37 youths living with disabilities have graduated after passing their CISCO Certified Technicians (CCT) and CISCO Certified Network Associates in Security (CCNA Security) Exams.

The graduands were trained for 9 months in Bridge IT Academy, which was launched in March 2021 targeting at equipping trainees with a strong career foundation in IT, and assisting in breaking down barriers of discrimination for People with Disabilities (PWDs).

Labour CS Simon Chelugui (right) and National Industrial Training Authority, Director General, Stephen Ogenga (left) giving certificate to one of the 37 Graduands during IT, Bridge Academy Cohort 1 Graduation ceremony at National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), Nairobi. Photo by Widen Ratemo

Officiating the graduation, Labour Cabinet Secretary (CS) Simon Chelugui said the ICT sector has been positioned as an enabler to Kenya’s socio-economic development blueprint, the Vision 2030 and the Big 4 agenda.

“As we witness graduation of this first COHORT of CISCO Bridge IT academy class of 2021, we need to remember that PWDs are disproportionately affected by digital transformation of the economy,” said Chelugui.

Since ICT is an enabler to Kenya’s socio-economic development, the CS said we need to ensure there is a large pool of ICT skills and talent to match our national requirement and where workers lack the requisite digital skills, employers should be encouraged to re-train their workforce to ensure they advance their digital skills and competencies.

He congratulated the graduands assuring them that there are many opportunities out there, including in the creative economy that awaits them, urging the learners to take advantage of the skills gained in this course to challenge the world because Disability is not Inability.

Chelugui challenged employers who have not met the minimum threshold of at least 5 per cent employment of persons with disability in their organization to take deliberate steps to implement the requirement.

He encouraged young people to enroll in ICT skills, assuring the graduands that the government shall consider them for employment after their Safaricom internship.

National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) Director General Stephen Ogenga said the organization shall remain vigilant, more accommodative and open to inclusivity of the experiences the authority is getting from the unique programme.

“The sustainability of this special program will ensure that we have equality and large inclusion in employment, education, social protection, political participation and access to government procurement opportunities,” said Ogenga.

Representing the Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa, the company’s Director Diversity and Inclusion Tabbie Kioko said that Safaricom shall absorb 33 of the graduands for a 6-month internship with stipend.

“Today Safaricom stands at 3.1 per cent and is steadily moving towards meeting the International Labour Organisation (ILO) requirement to have at least 5 per cent of employees being part of disability,” she said.

The graduands were trained on Introduction to IoT Security, Cyber Security Essentials, IT Essentials, Linax Essentials among others and the next Cohort of 50 trainees was officially launched Friday by the Labour CS.

By Catherine Muindi and Mary Wangari

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