Fostering Economic Empowerment and Tackling Youth Unemployment in Kenya

Lillian Mwai, Country Director Kenya12.10.2023
In just a few weeks, our call to action for young people in Nairobi to pursue careers in plumbing and electrical work has seen an incredible response with 2,800 applications. However, with millions of Kenyan youth entering the job market annually, addressing youth unemployment requires scalable, sustainable solutions. By engaging the private sector and fostering collaboration, we aim to create brighter prospects for the youth and contribute to a more prosperous future.

It's been a few weeks since we shared our call to action, inviting young people aged 18-30 years in Nairobi to pursue careers in plumbing and electrical work. The response has been nothing short of astounding. In just three weeks, we received an incredible 2,800 applications, and this past Saturday, approximately 600 enthusiastic young individuals attended our aptitude tests and career open day. The participation and enthusiasm from Nairobi's youth are truly heartening, but they also signal an unmistakable thirst for opportunities among this demographic.

However, it's important to acknowledge that only a third of these eager candidates will embark on their journey toward becoming skilled plumbers and electricians. While we celebrate this step, we must also remember that at least one million youth are entering the job market here in Kenya each year. To tackle this challenge, we cannot afford to merely discuss it in boardrooms. Instead, we need scalable and sustainable solutions that can create pathways for economic empowerment and job creation, not only in Africa but across the world.

Through the PropelA project funded by Hilti Foundation and implemented by Swisscontact. Still, the enormity of the challenge ahead looms large. To address youth unemployment comprehensively, we must confront the various obstacles that stand in the way of achieving this crucial agenda and address the issues within our ecosystem. With the private sector responsible for providing at least 80% of new jobs, we can no longer ignore their invaluable input and leadership. Instead, we must actively engage with them to foster their growth through skills development, given their remarkable capacity to generate employment opportunities.

Creating these vital linkages is essential to bringing policymakers in education and industry into the fold and incentivizing private sector engagement. While the journey may not always be smooth, we choose to lead from the front to create opportunities for young Africans.

I am deeply grateful to lead a dedicated team committed to achieving this audacious goal. Together, we are not only providing opportunities for our youth but also demonstrating the power of collaboration in effecting meaningful change. Our collective efforts will not only transform lives but also contribute to a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

This project is financed by the Hilti Foundation. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Initial vocational education and training
Improving skills for young plumbers and electricians through dual apprenticeship training (PropelA)
The PropelA project seeks to introduce a dual apprenticeship model driven by employers for the construction industry in Kenya and beyond, starting with plumbers and electricians.