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NGEC holds stakeholders meeting on empowering Kenya’s youth

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Mr. Daniel Seirberling, resident representative of the Kenya Hanns Seidel Foundation, stressed that real progress would only be seen when policies reflect the realities on the ground and genuinely empower the youth.

Key youth stakeholders Thursday met at the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) boardroom to address the urgent challenge of unemployment among Kenyan youth.

The meeting, graced by the State Department for Youth Affairs and Creative Economy, painted a vivid picture of the employment landscape for the 15-34 age group, which constitutes 35 percent of the nation’s population.

The statistics presented indicated that 67 percent of Kenyan youth face unemployment, with those aged 18 to 25 being twice as likely to be jobless compared to their 26 to 35-year-old peers.

Each year, approximately 800,000 young people enter the job market, only to encounter a shifting terrain where traditional jobs are rapidly evolving due to technological advancements such as automation and artificial intelligence.

A beacon of hope in this challenging environment is the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector, which has emerged as a critical player in providing opportunities for economically excluded segments of the labor force, including youth, women, persons with disabilities, and individuals with low levels of education.

MSMEs are integral to the production of raw materials, value addition, innovation, and product distribution, thereby creating employment opportunities for millions of Kenyans in both urban and rural areas.

The Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Program (KYEOP) has also made significant strides in addressing youth unemployment. The program offers comprehensive training and workplace experience, apprenticeships to impart relevant skills, and promotes self-employment through business development services.

To date, KYEOP has reached 30,000 beneficiaries with its business development services and has disbursed KSh 2.7 million in start-up capital to 68,000 youth, with the potential to create 100,000 jobs. Furthermore, the program’s business plan competition has benefited 750 young entrepreneurs, potentially generating 3,000 new jobs.

Daniel Seirberling, resident representative of the Kenya Hanns Seidel Foundation, emphasized the need for government economic policies to translate into substantive, meaningful engagement with young people, thereby improving their livelihoods. He stressed that real progress would only be seen when policies reflect the realities on the ground and genuinely empower the youth.

According to the date presented, 67PC of Kenyan youth face unemployment, with those aged 18 to 25 being twice as likely to be jobless compared to their 26 to 35-year-old peers.

The Kenyan government’s youth policy has identified several critical challenges: unemployment, underemployment, and the plight of the working poor who face low earnings, informal working conditions, and difficult work environments. The policy aspires to create opportunities for youth to earn decent and sustainable livelihoods, ensure sustainable financing of youth programs, promote entrepreneurship and self-employment, and transform agriculture and agri-business to make these sectors attractive to the youth.

As the discussions and initiatives evolve, the collective efforts of government, private sector, and civil society will be crucial in shaping a brighter, more inclusive future for Kenya’s youth.

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