Kenya has concluded her 2017 elections and it is time to roll up sleeves and start executing promises.
During the campaigns, the President made several promises to the Kenyan youth, ranging from a one and-a-half year paid internship fully supported by German private sector, tax breaks in close collaboration with the private sector to Ajira initiative, which looks to take up around a million jobs available to Kenyans online with 50,000 youth already signed up for training.
This is a very critical time for Kenyan youth to carve out a special space for themselves and forge a new model of engagement.
It cannot be business as usual any more. The role of the government is to create an enabling environment. The question is how will the young people do it?
One is the formation of President’s Youth Round Table. The current conceptual thinking on how to provide young people with pathways to economic opportunities and employment and how stakeholders can work together to achieve youth employment should be rethought.
There is need to have a clear framework combining government and non-government interventions to shape trajectory towards a dignified adult life so as to reduce wastage through duplication of efforts.
For this to happen, the National Youth Council should start a structured conversation to actively engage youth country wide so that they can gather data that will provide orientation for frameworks, initiatives and strategies.
Most importantly, it should be noted that the said frameworks and strategies cannot be static because of shifting dynamics and new knowledge.
The framework should focus on activities with the ability to generate adequate employment for the growing number of youth. Haphazard unstructured engagement is no longer tenable.
We can’t wait to see National Youth Council push for the formation of President’s Youth Round Table with scheduled quarterly engagements.
Mindset change is another strategy Kenyan youth can utilise to change their lives. Mindset change has been suggested as key to any real economic progress although many shy away from explicitly addressing it.
This entails addressing the beliefs, values and attitudes underlying assumptions, behaviour and choices and it begins with identifying prevailing mindsets.
Already there is the political will to support young people and now the ball is on their side to organise themselves into authentic groups where they can constructively challenge their mindsets.
Training schemes through local training committee to pursue customised training for specific groups of youth is another strategy available to young people.
The issue of skills shortages and mismatches has largely been discussed and measures have been put in place to build academia and industry partnerships in designing curriculum.
All the same, the discussion must be stretched further to attempt use of new technologies in education and access to open educational resources in order to enhance flexible course delivery and customised training for specific groups of youth.
Obviously, Kenya is very diverse and different regions will require different skills sets to participate in economic activities.
Kenyan youth should organise themselves to work with relevant government institutions through local training committee and training schemes for agricultural and other informal employment sectors where poverty reduction is most urgent to expand traditional apprenticeship schemes.
Finally, youth labour market data can be a major breakthrough. We are aware the government has facilitated citizens to have open access to data.
We however, would like to state that Kenyan youth should actively engage and demand well aggregated data that can allow them to make informed decisions in all the sectors. Unless they raise their voices, it will not be possible for government to meet their specific needs.
In most cases, the discussion is always skewed towards formal employment in urban areas where political interest and data can be easily found.
Little is, therefore, known about the functioning of the informal and agricultural labour markets, and even less about the youth specifics of these labour markets.
Youth groups should put measures in place to ensure this type of data find its way in aiding policy and progamme design.
Sometimes where polices have been evaluated, impacts of interventions on non-targeted groups, spill-over effects and other general equilibrium effects have been extremely difficult to assess.
We urge the Kenyan youth to take advantage of the existing political good will to transform their lives.
Dr Kiambati is a management consultant and a senior lecturer at Karatina University. [email protected] ail.com.
Dr Kariuki is a social scientist, management consultant and a lecturer at Karatina University. [email protected]