Workshop Youth and Employment in Kenya

On Friday December 4th, Palladium and the Netherlands Embassy in Kenya jointly organized a workshop on ‘Youth & Employment in Kenya’ as a follow-up to the virtual Youth At Heart conference that took place on November 2nd. The aim of the session was to share the Youth At Heart Principles created during the conference and also to introduce the upcoming call for solutions in Kenya of the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE).

Photo by Fredrik Lerneryd

Gap between education and labour market

The workshop began with remarks from Tijmen Rooseboom - the Ambassador for Youth, Education and Work at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs who highlighted the importance of bridging the gap between education and the labour market. A majority of Kenyan youth often feel a disconnect between what they learn in schools and the skills they require on the job. Tijmen indicated the need for inter-generational cooperation to bring about solutions. This was confirmed by Kevin Lunzalu of Restless Development, who emphasized the wish of youth to be engaged as equal stakeholders in decision making; “Decisions have been made for us, but without us.’’ There is a need to Build Back Better after the COVID-19 crisis via the active involvement of youth.

CFYE’s succesfull stakeholder collaboration

Ambassador Maarten Brouwer mentioned the optimistic perspective on the issue of youth employment. ‘With a majority of the population being under 35 years old, Kenya is well positioned to capitalize on the youth bulge to boost economic growth resulting from well-trained, educated and productive youth,’ said the Ambassador. He also acknowledged the CFYE’s approach of bringing together the private sector, knowledge institutions and civil society as a good example of stakeholder collaboration that should be encouraged to tackle global challenges.

The challenges youth face

The floor then opened to fund manager Palladium and VSO- represented by Marlou Rijk, Beatrice Gichohi and Majina Mwasezi respectively. Majina of VSO gave a comprehensive explanation of the outcomes of the research they undertook to understand the main challenges youth face when entering the labour market or looking to become entrepreneurs. Some of the challenges mentioned included: access to finance, lack of mentorships, inadequate training and lack of certification making it difficult for them to put their skills in practice. On their part, Beatrice and Marlou of Palladium gave an overview of the basic principles of the fund – the application process, eligibility and upcoming application windows. They also explained the potential of sectors such as agribusiness and manufacturing to bring about meaningful employment for the youth. As we are in the 4th Industrial revolution, Beatrice advocated for digital skills and innovation to support Kenyan businesses to improve efficiency, achieve growth and thus create more jobs.

CFYE will launch in Kenya

Officially, the CFYE will launch in Kenya in January 2021. The thematic windows for the call will be Digital Business Development Services and Scaling Up Green Growth jobs.  The CFYE expressed their interest to invest in proposals that cover ICT, e-commerce, creative arts, agribusiness and ‘green‘ sectors such as circular economy and waste management. An added consideration will be proposals that support rural youth and women to drive sustainable economic growth.