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Youth urged to acquire employable skills

West Pokot County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Education, Ms. Rebbeca Kide, has asked the youth in the county to pursue skills training to become employable in the job market.

Speaking during a five-day road show campaign, Kide said labour was shifting from white collar jobs to skills, and people with technical and vocational training have an upper hand to secure job opportunities in the formal and informal sectors.

“We now have an Ortum cement factory that needs skills for work. When the Muruny water project came, our people complained that they had been sidelined, but there was nobody with the required skills,” she said.

Kide challenged the youth to enrol in Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) centres next to their homes to be trained in vocations that suit their qualifications.

She said the rate of unemployment is an issue that the government is addressing, and every young person is requested to acquire the necessary skills that will enable them to gain employment or start businesses.

“I encourage the youth to enter into entrepreneurship to create their own businesses, as it will help to address joblessness in the country,” the CECM said.

The CECM said the government has invested in TVET colleges and requested more support in terms of infrastructure development and the employment of tutors.

She said the negative perception of youth accessing TVET programmes needs to change, adding that it is not true that TVET programmes are for those who are not academically good, saying they are not reserved for failures.

“Youth should be encouraged that TVET education is not for people who have not done well in school, and that perception really needs to change,” she said. “It is regrettable that the county has to look for plumbers from other counties because they lack enough local expertise for the sector,” Kide said.

She urged the youth to go for skills training to fill the vacuum that the county is having in terms of expertise, urging them to go for training in different skills, adding that the government is funding TVET trainees through HELB loans and asking those with tuition fees to not fear enrolling in the programme.

She said the manifesto of the West Pokot Governor was that the county would have TVET institutions in every ward. Kide urged members of the county assembly to ensure every ward has a TVET institution, urging them to use the ward fund to establish the institution for trainees.

“The national government has promised that every constituency will have one Technical Training Institute (TTI) for diploma students in a bid to make education affordable and accessible for all learners,” Kide said.

West Pokot County TVET Director Mr. Samuel Lemale said it is regrettable that by 2019, enrollment in six TVET centres in Kapenguria, Chepareria, Ortum, Sina, Sigor, and Kodich was only 517 students but has now increased to 2260 students.

Lemale said sensitization of the community through radio, road shows, and intervocational sports has helped increase the students’ enrollment in TVET courses. “We have built classrooms and dormitories. Students are learning electrical and electronics, carpentry and joinery, computers, building, and construction,” he said.

A programme officer at the Azizi Afrique Foundation, Ms. Beria Wawira, said that they want to change the narrative of people perceiving TVETs as failures or people who performed poorly.

“One of the gaps that has been identified over time is that TVET has been perceived as for people who have failed in school or for people who have performed poorly, and we want to change the narrative that TVET is the way to go and that “Form ni TVET,” she said.

She said TVET enrolment is still low, but by next year, many will enrol in the nine TVETs in West Pokot. She said they are rebranding the narrative with the aim of changing the perception of youths about joining TVET programmes.

Wawira said the enrolment rate in the county at the moment is low because most of the institutions with the highest number of students are public institutions, and she called upon youth who are at home to join TVET centres next to their homes.

“People need to enrol in TVET so that they are able to gain skills for life and be fully skilled for work and life as well,” she said, and called on the County Government to embrace and equip the nineteen institutions in the county government.

Another programme officer at the Azizi Afrique Foundation, Mr. Walter Odondi, said that TVET is an alternative way to transition to the job market.

“Around 800,000 people get into the job market each year, but there is still a low percentage of people getting jobs, with 27 per cent of the young people in unemployment because of skill mismanagement by the employers in the country,” Odondi said.

“Most people get into university, but TVET is an alternative way that can be used to teach the youth to march,” he said.

He said there are students who want to transit to university after high school, but spaces are not enough, and TVET provides an opportunity for the youth to join because it is cheap.

By Anthony Melly

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