Kenya has a very young population, with approximately 80% of people here aged 35 and under. Youth unemployment here is very high – at 67%.
Self Help Africa and Designer Group are working to change this, partnering on a project aimed at increasing informal and self-employment opportunities for young people in Kisumu County through training on technical skills. Courses include welding, electrical installation and motor vehicle mechanics.
“In the first phase of the project, we enrolled 26 students at The Kisumu National Polytechnic (TKNP) and 4 at Ramogi Institute of Advanced technology (RIAT)” says project co-ordinator, Cynthia Awino, adding that 15 more will be added in the second phase, attending the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA).
Most of the programme’s participants come from families with parents who cannot afford to send their children to college. Kevin Tzzadi Mttaki from Kondele, took a course in electrical installation. “I am now offering electrical services to the community. I have three apprentices I am training. Self Help Africa and Designer Group have brought some light into my life.”
The benefits of the training goes beyond the programme participants too. Many of the students are sharing their new skills with others who may not be direct beneficiaries of the programme. Calary Bernard, says the programme has helped him to become a proud plumber. He has been happy to share his knowledge, explaining that the programme has given him the Othung’a gi nyiero (wick lamp) to light other lamps. “If you laugh carelessly before the lamp, you will blow it off and you will not get the opportunity to light other lamps” he explained.
Self Help Africa’s Country Director, Jo Ryan, encouraged the young people involved to come up with sustainable business models, for which to apply their newly-acquired skills. “We will give you the support and skills to do what you identify as the best business”, she promised.
Designer Group’s Training Director, Brendan Kearns, who recently visited the Kisumu Youth Empowerment Project, says he is hugely impressed at the transformation and confidence the participants have developed. “The students are really focused on getting their qualification and, all told, their stories of what they want to achieve once completed. NITA is proving to be key for them as they are getting real access to practical training and development.”