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KEPSA, ABSA partner to equip the youth with skills

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has partnered with ABSA Bank Kenya to equip the youth with digital skills for the evolving job market.

The initiative ‘Ready to Work Programme’ by ABSA has seen over 200,000 registered youths participate in the Government’s Ajira Digital Programme.

Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS), Joe Mucheru, termed ABSA’s partnership with KEPSA a national outreach to exponentially scale up the digital programme further.

The CS, in a speech read on his by Ms Lucy Mulili, Ministry’s secretary,  ICT at the Serena Hotel Nairobi, said that the Ajira Digital Programme has come of age since it was first launched in December 2016.

“My Ministry has ensured that the Ajira Digital Programme runs efficiently, has an ecosystem approach and stays true to its guiding principles of deriving value generation through the private sector, orchestration of the ecosystem to self-regulate and grow, generate more value to the citizens, and realization of a knowledge economy,” the CS maintained.

Mucheru said it was the government’s mission to enable 1 million of the youth in Kenya to earn a decent wage from digital and digitally-enabled jobs annually by promoting partnerships with the private sector, growing the platform economy as well as creating avenues for training, mentorship, and networking.

He stressed on the Ministry’s objective of making Kenya the number one destination for digital workers globally by raising the country’s online work profile.

“Through the Ajira Youth Empowerment Centres (AYECs), we are building a network of digital villages which will transform the lives of many youths if they take up the opportunities and make use of the government’s infrastructure,” he added.

Further, the CS lauded the establishment of these AYECs which are staffed, spacious, and equipped with laptops and high speed internet that provide citizens, even in remote parts of the country, access to digital opportunities and training.

He said that the government has revamped the Ajira Digital Portal in the last few months to enable centralized coordination of the ministry’s activities as well as access to content from its extensive partner network.

“Phase one of the revamped portal is complete, and we are now working on phase two of the portal, which will incorporate e-learning,” he added.

The CS, apart from encouraging the ministry to generate their own content for sharing within the Ajira membership base, affirmed that any partner with an approved course that could benefit the youth will have the option to upload their course on the portal.

He emphasized that the programme seeks to encourage self-paced upskilling and work readiness programmes to all the members and that skilled and trained personnel were key to marketing Kenya as the choice labour destination for freelancers.

“The ABSA-Ajira partnership to deliver training will be a key milestone to ensure that we create a pool of different training partners and we expose our youths to market demands since the courses offered are from the industry perspective,” he re-affirmed.

On the other hand, KEPSA Chief Executive Officer, Carole Kariuki, said that the partnership with ABSA provides an opportunity where the youth, from the sector’s ongoing interventions like the Ajira Digital project, could access the much-needed employability skills as well as open up job linkage opportunities.

“We hope that through our various engagements and activities that will be conducted in line with this partnership, we can unlock thousands of jobs to young people in the creative industry as influencers and content creators,” she remarked.

She maintained that this collaboration aims to improve the government’s skilling and youth empowerment programs in order to address the high rate of youth unemployment and inability to find work.

At the same time, ABSA Bank Managing Director (MD), Jeremy Awori, lauded the involvement of KEPSA and partnership with the Ajira Programme and believes that ABSA, which is passionate about the youth, would empower and give them possible opportunities aligned with their hopes and dreams.

The MD further stated that the strategy on shared value is broadly premised on the African opportunity and aligned to ABSA’s target customer segments where, based on the youth high unemployment rate, unlocking the economic potential of the youth supports sustainable livelihoods for individuals, families, and communities.

“To address the employment gap, an increased access to education, employability, and economic opportunity through ‘the ready to work programme’ scholarships are initiated to support the youth by exposing and giving them opportunities for internships as well as educate them on various financial solutions and skills,” he said.

The Ajira Digital Programme is a project of the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, aimed at positioning Kenya as a choice labour destination for multinational companies as well as encouraging local companies and the public sector to create digital work opportunities for young people.

By Michael Omondi and Oscar Oganga

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