Youth in Kwale County have been urged to embrace vocational courses offered at the local Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions to acquire skills for employment.
County Director of Youth Affairs, Kent Simiyu said young people venturing in the labour market are vulnerable unless they acquire marketable skills.
Simiyu said the youth need to acquire critical hands-on skills needed to drive the Big Four Agenda of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare championed by the national government.
The officer decried the low enrolment facing local vocational institutions saying it is high time people’s attitudes towards TVET programmes changed.
“Courses offered in TVETs are relevant when in the labour market as they enable the trainee to create their own jobs and be competitive in life,” he said.
Simiyu said most of the youth in the county experience a deficiency of technical skills, a factor that has constantly locked them out of employment opportunities.
He said currently the Coast region faces severe shortage of skilled artisans such as plumbers, carpenters, welders, masons among other related skills.
The Youth Director said the government-championed Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP) programme is scaling up youth development across the country through technical and vocational training.
During an interview with KNA in his office in Kwale town Simiyu noted that the development of skills among the youth will contribute to economic growth at the local level.
He said TVETs have the potential to make a real difference in youth employment in the country and added Kwale has such centres spread in Matuga, Kinango, Msambweni and Lunga Lunga sub counties.
“The youth should not depend on white-collar jobs but embrace technical skills offered at TVET institutions to improve their lot,” said Simiyu.
He said the youth in the region must embrace technology skills to remain relevant and help in addressing the high rate of unemployment.
In 2013, the government embarked on a mission to ensure each sub-county has a TVET center that could offer comprehensive technical training to address the issue of unemployment.
Simiyu said the KYEOP is a government initiative that seeks to provide youth with technical training and also offers them grants to fund their business plans.
He said currently KYEOP has trained 5000 youth across Kwale while 1,600 youth received a Sh40, 000 grant each to start up income generating activities.
The youth director noted that Kwale County has been included in the 7th circle of the program which is expected to kick off in the coming months following the county’s success in the previous circles.
‘‘We are glad, youth here have been completing the training thus attracting many stakeholders who are willing to support them,” he said.
Simiyu asked the youth in the county to develop their business plans and seek grants from his office.
The director dispelled claims by a section of the youth on tough conditions imposed by financial institutions when applying for loans.
He said banks and micro-finance institutions are profit-making organizations consequently not favorable institutions to seek loans.
Instead, he said, interested groups and individuals should visit his office to be guided on how to obtain funds from the Uwezo Youth Fund and Youth Enterprise Development Fund.
He said such institutions are flagship programs initiated by the government in line with the vision 2030 to provide funds to youth and women at zero interest rate.
At the same time Simiyu expressed disappointment at how the young generation is sinking into drugs and substance abuse and dabbling in crime. He said the war on drugs and crime could easily be won if parents could play their roles properly.
Simiyu noted that the government is working hard to establish rehabilitation centers for those addicted to drugs.
Kwale County has two major rehabilitation centers; the Teens Watch Centre, a community-based organization that deals with young and older people including female sex workers, and the Kombani Rehabilitation Centre on the Lunga Lunga highway.
The youth director warned the youth against being used by selfish politicians to cause chaos during next year’s electioneering period.
He said youth should be involved in meaningful activities and be ambassadors of peace before, during and after the general election.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi