Kenya: Be more practical on youth unemployment

In Summary

  • We need to create more awareness about initiatives such as the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, which is available to youth in the creative or performing arts.
  • The qualification for such a fund should however be eased to encourage more people to join, hence increase loan uptake and reduce unemployment.

By LISA MUGUNDA

The high unemployment rate among the youth continues to evoke heated debate and concern among Kenyans.

Much money is spent on education only for graduates to join the dreaded search for jobs known as ‘tarmacking’.

According to the 2018 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) economic survey, the budget for the education sector was set to rise by 31.6 per cent to Sh415.3 billion in the 2017/2018 financial year, from Sh315.6 billion in the previous one.

Ensuring graduates and other school leavers get jobs or self-employment and become economically productive would be a big step towards getting value for this figure.

But with every passing day, a dark cloud hangs over the youth’s employment prospects.

CRIME

According to the KNBS survey, seven million Kenyans, 70 per cent of them youths, are jobless.

We have to declare the obvious: Jobs are few, close to non-existent; and we need to find a solution to the menace.

Graduates enter the job market with the hope of getting formal employment. But what they don’t know is that only one out of five of their lot stands a chance.

This means majority of them have to find alternative ways of earning an income.

The resulting frustrations often expose the youth to temptation to engage in crime, a situation that must be stifled.

ELECTION

Conversely, those lucky enough to get employed find themselves struggling with a mismatch of job requirements and their skills. Many lack the relevant knowledge and skills.

Youth unemployment ranks high every election cycle but the job creation promises end up as a cock-and-bull story and a violation of public trust.

We now need to devise other ways of job creation and self-development. To expect the government to provide the jobs is like waiting for another of the biblical Red Sea parting.

But we can hold it to account and know the structures put in place to support the youth. Most of them have not borne fruit, and if they have move at a snail’s pace.

The government should however be commended for giving tax waivers to companies that employ interns, as this enables the youth to acquire the necessary skills. But a lot more still needs to be done.

TALENT

We need to create more awareness about initiatives such as the Women Enterprise Fund, Uwezo Fund and Youth Enterprise Development Fund and its offshoot, Talanta Loan, which is available to youth in the creative or performing arts.

Many youth should be brought on board in order to benefit from the initiatives.

Many of them have hands-on talents and creative skills in fields such as the arts, craft, carpentry, cooking and mechanical work, which, if tapped, can be economically rewarding to them.

What the youth lack are opportunities, which can be created through the use of these funds. This will encourage entrepreneurship and innovation and generate employment slots.

The qualification for such funds should however be eased to encourage more people to join, hence increase loan uptake and reduce unemployment.

The youth should be encouraged to fully exploit and perfect their skills and talents as a first towards formal or self-employment.

It’s what they are facilitated to do with their hands that will eventually unlock doors to economic liberty for them.

Source Daily Nation

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