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Gap in tailoring as youth rush for Boda boda business

The ageing Migori County competent cloth tailors may not have a young generation to replace them after it emerged that many youths prefer Boda boda than training in technical, crafts and artisan skills.

A quick check in Migori town revealed that there were few tailors with exceptional skills and most of them headed to retirement.

Benard Odoyo, 73 years, a tailor in Migori town regrets that the majority of young people prefer Boda boda business because it does not call for any training and can give them quick Sh500 per day.

Mzee Bernard Odonyo at his tailoring workplace in Migori town. Mzee Odonyo started the tailoring work in 1971 making him one of the oldest tailor’s at the County with 51 years of work experience. Photo by Geoffrey Makokha.

Ochieng says tailoring calls for a lot of patience and persistence for one to master the tailor skills which he claimed cannot be demonstrated by the majority youths of the current generation.

“I have done this work for 51 years and all my children went to school and colleges out of the proceeds I gained from tailoring work, but unfortunately no child is interested in learning these skills,” Ochieng said.

He called for the youths to consider tailoring work as better because once the skills are mastered the benefits will be immeasurable.

Charles Ochieng who started designing clothes for both women and men in 1995 reveals that the number of young people who have approached him for training have since declined.

“I am now approaching 50 years but, in my cloth, making career within Migori town I have noted that young men are not interested in this work. They prefer immediate Boda boda quick cash which sometimes is not sustainable in the long run,” Ochieng said.

Ochieng says that he has trained over 30 competent cloth making tailors since he began his career but the number has since gone down since few young people are interested in the work.

He thanked the government for rolling out Competent Based Curriculum which he believes will guide the young generation from the onset based on their talents with much attention centered on artisan, craft and related technical skills.

“Though it has come out late, at least the government Competent Based Curriculum will help our youths embrace the needed craft and technical skills,” he said.

Elius Okinyi, 40 years, the owner of ‘Golden House of Design’ in Migori town, however says the youth should choose their career paths based on their talents and passion.

Okinyi says he is ready to train for free youths who are moved with passion in cloth making and design.

He thanked the National Government and World Bank for initiating the Kenya Youth, Employment and Opportunities Project for encouraging more youths to embrace technical, artisan and craft skills.

Okinyi says he has managed to train several youths recommended under KYEOP and some of them are emerging better future clothes designers.

By Geoffrey Satia

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