At least 560 youth in Kwale County hope for a better future after the Kenya Youth Empowerment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP) kicked off a seven-month training program.
The program targets youth who fail to proceed beyond secondary level of education to equip them with technical skills in a bid to increase their employability and create job opportunities.
The 7th cycle of this program will see Lunga Lunga sub-county receiving the largest share of 202 successful applicants, Matuga sub-county 164, Msambweni sub-county 112, and Kinango sub-county 84.
The training program will directly reach 562 unemployed youth from deprived communities with training in vocational and entrepreneurship skills leading to employment.
As a result, these targeted youth will increase their income and savings and in so doing improve economy indirectly benefiting their families.
The training will equip the youths with hands-on skills needed to drive the Big Four agenda of food security and nutrition, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable health care championed by the national government.
The beneficiaries will be exposed to key courses such as beauty and cosmetics, building and construction, carpentry, electrical installation, refrigeration, electrical and mechanics, plumbing and masonry among other courses.
The 7th cycle of the program where Kwale County is included attracted over 214,000 applicants nationally.
KYEOP is a transformational project funded by the World Bank and aims to empower and uplift the well-being of the youth in the country by equipping them with essential training, internship, and business grants opportunities.
The project is crafted to help young men and women within the age bracket of 17-35 years who are unemployed youth from deprived communities.
Addressing the press during the induction exercise of the youth training in Kwale County, National Deputy Director Youth Development at the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, George Osaso said the program has heralded massive empowerment of the youth in the country.
Osaso added that the majority of the youth who failed to go beyond the secondary school level have had many economic challenges due to lack of vocational, technical and entrepreneurial skills.
He declared that vocational and technical training is the way to go noting that the era for white collar jobs is fast diminishing.
“It’s high time that young people appreciate that money is in the blue-collar sector particularly the technical areas,” he said.
‘‘The project has transformed many young people and now they are capable of contributing to the socio-economic development of the country,” he said, adding that the youth are now key agents in the development of the country.
The KYEOP initiative that seeks to address constraints and market failures that limit the demand for youth employment and their productivity once in employment has a fund of Sh.15 million from the World Bank and is being implemented over five years.
Osaso noted that the selection process was conducted in a very transparent manner and 7,000 youth in the country were awarded the transformational opportunity.
The youth deputy director asked the successful applicants to ensure they attend almost 70 per cent of the classes for them to satisfy the project implementers demand to administer the examination.
“Take this opportunity seriously. Being here means a lot. It’s a big step towards changing your future. Be aggressive enough to acquire all concepts in your courses,’’Osaso said.
To address the issue of mental health, the director noted that the program will also incorporate training in critical life skills like problem-solving and critical thinking.
He said the program is divided into two major categories in which the first two months will be classroom training.
The second category will take five months of apprenticeship with internship craftsmen before skill certification is done by National Industrial Training Authority (NITA).
NITA is a state corporation established under the Industrial Training (Amendment) Act of 2011.
Its mandate is to promote the highest standards in the quality and efficiency of Industrial Training in Kenya and ensure an adequate supply of properly trained manpower at all levels in the industry.
Osaso noted that the project has been very transformative in the economic empowerment of the Kenyan youth where over 280,000 youth have graduated from the training and a large percentage already meet their daily needs.
Coast Regional Coordinator for Youth Affairs in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Charles Ayeko said that he was impressed by the manner the youth from Kwale have performed in the previous circles of this project.
Ayeko added that the project is a good opportunity for the disadvantaged youth who have been receiving stiff competition from college and university students as they seek white-collar jobs.
‘This is such an amazing opportunity to help you find a place in the market. Don’t joke around about this opportunity as it is one of the best ways to change your future’’Ayeko said.
The youth regional coordinator asked the beneficiaries to settle on courses that will be beneficial to them and avoid manipulation from peers.
He said the project will also seek to address issues of early marriages and teenage pregnancies, drug and substance abuse among other social ills bedeviling the young people.
Moreover, the project will address issues of youth involvement in terrorism as championed by unemployment.
The economic survey released recently showed that employment contracted to 17.4 million people in 2020, down from 18.1milion in 2019.
In particular, employment in the non-formal sector went down to 14.5milion, from the previous 15 million.
It is noted that the Covid- 19 pandemic pushed thousands out of employment and the prolonged period of economic stagnation means firms will not be able to pick up quickly and create employment opportunities for the young people.
Thus, initiatives under KEYOP to support youth to get into productive engagement are crucial for the economy of the country.
Kwale County Director for Youth Affairs, Kent Simiyu asked the youth to put a lot of effort into the seven-month training period.
He added that through their performance the county will be able to be considered for such important projects in future.
”Let us work smart like the other groups. Let’s be ready to follow instructions. Your cooperation will help the other youths who are still waiting for such an incredible opportunity” Simiyu said.
Simiyu noted that his office is finalizing some plans before they contact successful applicants for the grants offered by KYEOP.
KYEOP is offering business grants of Sh.40, 000, Sh.900, 000, and Sh. 3 million to youths with good business ideas.
The director noted that the government is determined to direct many projects to the youth to transform their lives and better the economy.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi