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Strengthen youth hubs to tackle unemployment

Monday August 19 2019

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Last week, the government rolled out a series of events aimed at empowering the youth.

A key feature was the launch of 15 youth empowerment centres across the country meant to serve as information hubs and leisure spots for the young people.

They were part of some 152 such centres established in more than 100 constituencies in 2012 under the Vision 2030 project.

The facilities are to offer access to information and communication technology, guidance and counselling on drugs and substance abuse, and HIV/Aids prevention, among other services.

They will also have equipment for indoor and outdoor games. The goal is to provide facilities for the youth to engage in productive ventures.

But as Public Service and Youth Principal Secretary Francis Owino observed, the facilities are always unused, which is quite unsettling.



This is a poignant point that should elicit concern. The fact that the centres have remained largely unused means they are not relevant to the immediate needs of the youth, who are left struggling every day to survive in the face of acute unemployment.

It would also mean they are inaccessible by a larger group of youth out there and not just the ones in the urban centres.

It is a fact that they bear the brunt of the high rate of unemployment.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) survey indicates that seven million people are jobless, 70 per cent the youth.

That this number has continued to swell is a pointer to the fact that either we do not have practical policies on how to tame unemployment or the ones we have are not effective in tackling the monster of youth unemployment.


It is disheartening that though the youth of voting age play the biggest role during elections — both in terms of numbers and campaigns, with politicians mobilising them in droves to shore up their vote margins, the same leaders simply forget them the moment they assume office.

The result if that joblessness among the youth has remained a long-drawn problem that seems not to have a solution any time soon.

This calls for more practical measures to make sure our youth are gainfully engaged to prevent falling into crime and other destructive ventures.

We must explore ways of making kitties such as Uwezo Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund and its offshoot the Talanta Loan, available for youth eager to venture into self-employment to do so and earn an honest living.

Similarly, youth with diverse talents must be encouraged and given capital where necessary to exploit these talents to the full for their personal development.

In effect, initiatives targeting the youth should have meaning in their lives.