Give Youth Skills to Achieve Inclusive and Sustainable Development
The World Youth Skills Day was marked on Monday July 15th 2019. This provided a moment to reflect on efforts being spearheaded nationally and globally in engaging youths towards sustainable development through the provision of skills. Without inclusivity, development cannot be sustainable; it will only prove disruptive. Yet inclusivity cannot be achieved without carrying everyone along, including the youth.
Young people have the potential to turn around things by bringing in the energy, the enthusiasm and the innovation needed to spur economic development. This is especially important for our country Kenya which is among those with the highest percentage of young people (aged 15-24) making the population at 20.3%. And the bane of unemployment has disproportionality affected them, at times due to inadequate skills needed by the labor market, other times due to the longer periods it takes them to transition from school to work. Consequently, many youths still struggle in their endeavor to meaningfully participate in the development of our nation.
The United Nations estimates that the youth are thrice as likely as older people to stay out of employment and when they finally do get employed, they face a number of labor inequalities that include lower quality jobs.
Possession of requisite skills enables the young people enter decent well-paying jobs while access to funds allows them the opportunity to showcase their creativity and business acumen when they start and run enterprises which create employment not only for themselves but for others as well. Government initiatives such as the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) are instrumental. And to build on them, partnerships are crucial because sustainable development is all about building partnerships and leveraging each other’s strengths, which is why YEDF for instance recently, partnered with the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre- a business innovation hub in Nairobi- to support Kenyan youth through skills acquisition and financing.
This will be done through youth mobilization, sensitization, information sharing, business development services, incubation and mentorship, networking for youth enterprises as well as market support linkages. This is on the understanding that in addition to acquisition of skills, a young person may just be in need of understanding how to penetrate a market or network with others for their product to have high impact.
Related Article: KCIC partners with youth fund to promote entrepreneurships
Now is the time to capitalize on the youth bulge, currently being propelled by the growing numbers of millennials and post-millennials, and place them at the center of development initiatives. And there is no better way to go about it than to empower them with the much-needed skills then linking them to opportunities, especially those available in high growth sectors such as the creative industry. When their competencies are developed, their transition to decent jobs is accelerated thereby shortening the often-long school-to-work transitions.
Redacted versions of this article were originally published in the Daily Nation on Wednesday 17th July 2019 and in The Star on Thursday 18th July 2019 by Vincent Ogaya.