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State Initiates Innovative Programme to Provide Avenues for Youth Employment

Youth have been urged to take advantage of opportunities presented under the National Young Innovators Entrepreneurship Programme (NYIEP) that creates a unique opportunity to connect the youth to wider innovative eco-systems.

This is to leverage the technical know-how of innovate hubs so as to build skills required to set and commercialize their innovations.

The Government of Kenya is amongst the few countries in Africa that has taken a lead in developing innovations ranking third, behind South Africa and Botswana in the Global Innovation Index.

State Department for Labour and Skills Development Principal Secretary (PS) Geoffrey Kaituko stated that the development skills program is aimed at providing innovative skills that see the young people develop and translate their skills into productive economic activities.

Speaking during the virtual launch of the Second phase of NYIEP and graduation ceremony of the first cohort, Kaituko said the innovation hubs provide the interface between young innovators and the industry.

“Young innovators are provided with early-stage entrepreneurship training and information on Intellectual Property Rights as well as linkages within the industry,” Kaituko emphasized.

He added that the programme combines incubation, acceleration and is scaling-up to equip young people with skills and resources that they need to become innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Our vision is to change the mindset of the youth from job seeking to that of job creation and self-employment that thrives on innovation.  A good example of this is the M-Pesa mobile-based and web development start-up which allows its users to conduct financial transactions and to pay for products and services via their mobile phones,” Kaituko remarked.

The PS said that for the young people, start-ups are a bottom-up method of generating income as envisaged in the Governments Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda.

Kaituko reaffirmed that the government recognizes the acceleration of innovative-driven entrepreneurship through skills development as crucial for large-scale employment as envisioned in Kenya Vision 2030.

The PS confirmed that 187 youth are graduating from the first phase of the National Young Innovators Entrepreneurship Training while the second cohort of 120 trainees are set to participate in the next phase of the program affirming that plans are underway to follow up on the youth who graduated to ensure that they implement successful startups.

The PS said that the State Department for Labour and Skills Development, in collaboration with the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Center at Kenyatta University is implementing the National Young Innovators Entrepreneurship Training Programme.

Kaituko highlighted that the goal of the Programme is to empower young innovators with the skills required to transform inventions and innovations into entrepreneurial ventures in an effort to enhance their productivity and employability.

The PS added that the Skills development is a key pillar in fostering youth employment and harnessing their full potential with a youthful, talented and energetic population noting that the country is well placed to harness a demographic dividend.

“Towards this endeavor, the State Department for Labour and Skills Development will continue to promote pro-youth employment skills and development efforts. The more the young people are empowered, the more they will be able to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country,” Kaituko pledged.

According to a report released in 2021 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the age groups of 20-24 and 25-29 continued to record the highest proportion of the unemployed at 16.3 per cent and 9.1 per cent, respectively.

Furthermore, the youth aged 20-24 have the highest rate of long-term unemployment (which means continuous periods of unemployment extending for one year or longer) at 13.5 per cent.

Youth unemployment imposes challenges related to poverty, inequality, dependency, loss of self-esteem, social and political unrest and vulnerability to drug and substance abuse, criminal behavior, radicalization and violent extremism.

By Ali Sheikh Mohamed and Phinta Amondi

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