The growing rate of unemployment among young people is something to worry about. It’s indeed the driver to the many social ill in our societies. The Kenyan government has tried its best in designing and implementing projects that have helped create job opportunities for young people. But even with these tremendous efforts, there is still a gap. Most young people are sieved out of formal employment for not possessing academic qualifications or technical skills required. Needing to survive, they find their “employment” in criminal and other unlawful activities. Vast majority of young people don’t qualify to join universities or colleges (and other tertiary institutions) for advancement of their careers. And this is why technical and vocational training plays a critical role in equipping them with skill set and knowledge required by employers in the different industries.
January 27-28 2017, Global Communities participated in Technical Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) National Conference that was held at the KICC. The event was organized by TVET-Authority, an umbrella body for all technical training institution in Kenya. This years’ theme was Hands on the Future Kenya Skills Show. This event focused on fields including Building and Construction, Agribusiness, Healthcare, Business and entrepreneurship, ICT, manufacturing and fast moving consumer goods, Hospitality and Tourism, Engineering and Technology, Energy and Mining (among others).
During the two days skills show exhibition, over 400 people visited Global Communities booth. About 50% of this number, were young people. Some just wanted to understand what we do as an organization, while others,particularly organizations, wanted to understand our scope of work and different programs we implement and how they can engage with us. Global Communities staffs were well equipped and responded to the many questions from the visitors at the booth.
I saw many girls and young women collecting around Global Communities’ booth wanting to learn more about PEPFAR-funded DREAMS program that is supporting girls and young women achieve their dreams. They received relevant information and
materials on HIV/AIDS prevention, importance of family planning,Reproductive sexual health. Apparently, from my observation, most of these girls don’t seem to get this kind of information from their parents /guardians and care givers. It’s viewed as a “taboo” to talk about sex with your parents or guardians. As a result they end up making wrong decisions that plunge them into things like early pregnancies, HIV/Aids, STIs and thus their dreams and aspirations are often cut short. They learnt how they can become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS).The program has continued supporting young women and girls in Pumwani to achieve their dreams through sponsoring them to undergo technical and vocational trainings. On December 16, about thirty three girls and young women graduated from Christian Industrial Training College (CITC) each with certificate in beauty and hairdressing. They are now self -employed and running their own salons.
At the skills show exhibition, I also witnessed many young people interested in matters of cooperatives-what it’s all about, benefits of forming a cooperatives and how they could get involved with EMIRGE, a USAID-funded program that supports the cooperativesector in Kenya. Ian Murdoch of International Marine Institute of Memorial University was particularly excited by the support of EMIRGE to the cooperative sector in Kenya. “This is really great work. Cooperative provides an alternative form of employment for young people. Keep on transforming lives!” said Ian when he visited Global Communities exhibition booth. Brand Ambassador Youth(BAY) cooperative, a youth-owned cooperatives engaging in branding and marketing, supported by EMIRGE program, were also able to showcase their products and were able to get several potential clients.
Most farmers, agribusiness SMEs and NGOs implementing agribusiness-related programs were attracted by our Agribusiness Investment for Market Stimulation (AIMS) program banner that was set up on the right side of Global Communities’ booth at the TVET conference. Wanting to know more about what AIMS does, they asked many different questions including how they can engage with us. Magdalene is middle aged lady from Eldoret. She owns over 500 acres of land, of which 50% is under farming. She harvests close to one ton of maize every year but the challenge she faces is market for her produce. When she visited our booth at the conference, she was excited to learn about AIMS program and how it’s supporting farmers to access market for their produce through business to business or B2B forums. She promised to participate in the next such forums supported by AIMS in Eldoret. “About 40% of our harvest is destroyed by pests and poor storage practices because our farmers don’t have ready market for their produce. This opportunity is God-sent for farmers like me.” Said Magdalene.
Beyond exhibition, Global Communities also had an opportunity to present on two different topics: The topic on Exploring the Service Industry was presented by Global Communities’ EMIRGE Kenya Team Lead, Johnson Kithendu who went deep to show participants, majority of who were youth, great potential that exist in the service industry in Kenya. Topic on How to get “REAL” with Career Choices and Talent Identification was well presented by Global Communities’ Lucian Koske.
Going forward, Global Communities seeks to leverage on the many networks and opportunities created during the TVET conference to make communities we work with more empowered –to continue investing toward a strengthened agribusiness sector, vibrant cooperatives and resilient and empowered girls and young women in Kenya.