A few weeks ago, a group of young artisans from Kamukunji attended technical skills training at Gearbox offices on Enterprise Road in Industrial Area , Nairobi.
During the capacity building sessions, Gearbox trained at least 250 informal sector (juakali) artisans in metal fabrication, sheet metal works, wood work and plastics.
The main objective of the programme is to train individuals to use modern digital fabrication tools to produce items that have proven demand, quality competitive products and with little to less man power.
On July 15, the world celebrated World Youth Skills Day to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilise political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.
Globally, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. The active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies by the target date, and to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration.
However, young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labour market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. In addition, women are more likely to be underemployed and underpaid, and to undertake part-time jobs or work under temporary contracts.
When KCB Foundation started 2jiajiri, we hoped that a majority of those that would join the programme would be business people. But that was not the case. The demand for technical skills by the youth to be self-sufficient is overwhelming.
There is a booming informal sector in Kenya of small-scale traders, crafts-people and entrepreneurs. More importantly, there is need to consciously put more effort to diversify local industrial production and through policy, and through such training, we can target to improve manufacturing in Kenya. There is no other way of growing local firms without us investing in new technologies and creating a conducive business environment
Additionally, interested players must take a proactive approach to engage young entrepreneurs interested in improving their skills. Through 2jiajiri, we seek to empower and equip unemployed and out-of-school youth to grow micro enterprises by providing them with technical skill training opportunities and certifying existing micro-entrepreneurs who wish to move their business from the informal to the formal sector.
As we reflect on the gains made in empowering young entrepreneurs especially in the informal sector, corporate institutions must endeavour to be stakeholders in products and service provision. The writer is managing director, KCB Foundation.—[email protected]