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Nurturing Talents to Curb Youth Unemployment

For  32 years until the beginning of 2018, Kenya had embraced the educational curriculum of 8-4-4 that seemed to lay emphasis on academics and soon the curriculum came under criticism for churning out graduates only suitable for white-collar jobs.

The influx of white-collar job seekers created an imbalance in technical skills in the job market over time, resulting in one of Kenya’s biggest obstacles to development – youth unemployment, which currently stands at 40 percent mainly due to lack of the requisite technical skills .

This ignited the desire on the part of the government to include Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a key component of Vision 2030. Roughly, data shows Kenya requires 30,000 technologists, 90,000 technicians and over 400,000 craftsmen to attain the mega projects under Vision 2030.

The new 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum system referred to as Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) has been touted as the ultimate remedy to limitations identified in the 8-4-4 system because it is entirely skills-based. Experts are of the view that this system will enable learners to develop beyond academics and also focus on how best they can use their specific talents to make a living.

The County Government of Narok for instance has spent over Sh. 100 million constructing six Technical Training Institutions (TTI) in the county. This TTIs are aimed at enhancing vocational and technical training in order to equip Kenyans especially the youth with skills to create employment opportunities for themselves.

The Jubilee Administration made strides in ensuring the development of vocational education and facilitation of reform development in the education sector to meet the nation’s technological needs.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has been encouraging more students to consider pursuing technical courses to fill to make Kenya an industrially developed state.

Students also continue being urged to take advantage of the Government’s commitment to expanding technical education so as to get the necessary skills needed in the job market.

Peter Ndung’u, a 24-year-old resident of Majengo area in Narok town dropped out of school in class 6 when he realized he wasn’t good at academics. He however had a passion for electronics and his talents lay in the building of electrical machines. Ndung’u says his mother was quick to realize his talents and when he decided to drop out of school, she understood and decided to nurture his talent.

“Ever since I was very young whenever I could find a radio or any other electronic equipment, I would open it up in an attempt to figure out how it works. My mother noticed this and so when I dropped out of school, she asked what course I would like to do and took me to study a course in electrical wiring ,” says Ndung’u.

After two years studying the course, Ndung’u finally started working as an electrician and it was in one of his jobs that he was called by a customer who had a faulty incubator. Ndung’u says it was while repairing this very first incubator that he realized it was a machine he could build himself.

“After repairing that incubator, I found myself curious to know how it works and when I got home, I started opening up various parts of a refrigerator that I had and bought some other parts I needed and built my very first incubator,” he says.

An incubator is a facility used for hatching of eggs. In essence, an incubator allows you to hatch eggs without having hens sit on them for three weeks. Incubators mimic the conditions of the hen including appropriate temperature needed for hatching.

His first incubator however didn’t work but this did not deter him from trying once again. After doing some research on the internet on the temperature and humidity required to fertilize an egg, he realized the mistakes he had done.

“I made the necessary adjustments and my second incubator worked even though not perfectly. I continued perfecting my works making them bigger and better,” Ndung’u said adding he started with an incubator that had a setting capacity for 176 eggs. He is now building an incubator that has a setting capacity for 4,000 eggs which is his biggest project yet.

The raw materials Ndung’u uses to make the incubators are found locally. He buys block boards, welding irons, metal and controllers from various parts of the country and in some instances uses recycled materials like old fans from other equipment.

His incubators prices vary depending on sizes. He sells those with a setting capacity for 176 eggs at Sh. 45,000, 264 eggs at Sh. 55,000, 352 eggs at Sh. 60,000, 440 eggs at Sh. 70,000 and 500 eggs at Sh. 70,000. The biggest incubator he makes has a setting capacity of 700 to 4,000 eggs and he sells it at Sh. 260,000.

Furthermore he offers the service of hatching eggs using his own incubators at Sh. 40 per egg for a night. He also sells 1 day old chicks at Sh. 100, one week at Sh. 150, two weeks at Sh. 200 and one month at Sh. 350.

Ndung’u does however face several challenges, the worst being lack of customers as many people are yet to embrace this new innovation. Despite having well-functioning incubators, some people still go purchasing the equipment even in foreign countries. This has made his incubators slow moving goods and less profitable.

“I can end up staying with an incubator for up to two months before getting a customer. However, I have been trying to advertise my products on social networking sites like Facebook and I do end up getting some few customers from there,” he says.

Furthermore, he says finding the parts he needs to build the incubators such as the fans and others is difficult and sometimes has to source them from far. “There are few places I can find what I requires and the prices are high. To also function well, the incubators requires electricity and the cost is very prohibitive,” he added.

Ndung’u therefore pleaded with the government to support people like him who are talented to enable them develop their talents and contribute to the economy. He also called for establishment of a market locally where they can sell their products and be able to access and buy materials they require in constructing their innovations easily.

Ndung`u also advises parents to nurture talents of their children and not force them towards areas in which they have no interest. He is full of praise for the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) education system because it does pay more attention to the talents the children possess.

“If a parent sees his child has a certain talent, they should develop it and encourage their children to pursue their passion. As for the children they should never lose hope chasing their dreams because that God given talent will make them successful in life,” he adds.

His talent is now putting food on the table for him, wife and their child. He has been building and selling incubators for four years now. With the money he makes, He has managed to start up an electronics shop that supplements his earnings.

Ndung’u believes people especially the youth can rely on their talents to have a successful lives. He urges them to enroll in Technical Training Institutions and find a course they are passionate about, work hard at it and find ways to employ themselves.

By  Mabel Keya – Shikuku/Joseph Kariuki

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