By Bella Conte

The Kenyan government has launched an innovative initiative aimed at enhancing workforce readiness among the youth and promoting economic growth across the country.

The National Online Employment Skills Development is a collaboration programme between Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, State Department for Labour and Skills Development and the Ajira Digital program driven by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy.

It is designed to bridge the gap between education and employment, equipping young people with the necessary skills and competencies demanded by today’s evolving job market.

According to the 2022 Trends and Insights For Africa (TIFA) survey commissioned by the Ajira Digital Program, there are over 1.9 million people working online today in Kenya. Over 1,576 young people have acquired jobs from the pilot e-government program through the Judiciary, and over 110,476 young people have been linked to work in the private sector.

Speaking during the programme launch, Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection, Florence Bore noted that the National Online Employment Skills Development Programme which is expected to enhance youth’s employability and productivity in the gig economy (a way of working that involves short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs) has already attracted over 2000 young people, including youths with disabilities.

“By providing individuals with the tools, training, and opportunities they need to succeed, we are empowering them to shape their own futures and contribute meaningfully to the economic growth of our nation,” Bore said.

The programme will also offer a comprehensive range of initiatives to support individuals at every stage of their career development journey including skills assessment and gap analysis, training and certification, apprenticeship and internship opportunities and job placement and career services.

Kenya’s current unemployment rate stands at almost seven percent, with the highest proportion of unemployed individuals in the age groups of 20-24 years (16.3%) and 25-29 years (9.1%).

Long-term unemployment is also prevalent among youth aged 20-24 years, with a rate of approximately 13%.

Principal Secretary of the State Department for Labour and Skills Development, Geoffrey Kaituko, said that the goal of the program is to equip the youth with the requisite knowledge, skills, and attitude to access and participate effectively in online work.

“The program which will be delivered through e-learning targets youth, including people with disabilities, specifically youth with hearing and visual impairments. However, youth with disabilities shall be trained through face-to-face methodology,” Kaituko said.

“The course work shall be undertaken for one week, followed by mentorship and work-based learning for a period of four weeks. The program shall be delivered by trainers from the Ajira Digital Program in partnership in partnership with eMobilis Technology Training Institute, who are empowering youth with digital and technological skills. Upon completion of the course, the trainees will be awarded certificates and linked to the labour market.”

Additionally, the Principal secretary said the youth will be trained in Data Management, Transcription and content writing owing to the high demand for data management in the online gig economy.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, in close collaboration with the Ajira Digital Program under the Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), eMobilis Technology Training Institute, the Mastercard Foundation, and Konza Technopolis, will ensure the success and widespread reach of the National Online Employment Skills Development Programme across the country. This collaborative approach will leverage the strengths and expertise of various stakeholders, leading to a more comprehensive and impactful solution.