One-third of Kenya’s population is between 15 and 34 years old. Many of these Kenyan youth struggle to find meaningful employment. A critical way to reduce poverty and promote stability is through job-rich economic growth that produces decent work for all.
In 2015, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Kenya Youth Employment and Skills (K-YES) program, led by RTI. The five-year program provides disenfranchised youth with the skills, assets, and support they need to compete and succeed in the workplace.
K-YES works with private-sector companies (including Kenya Commercial Bank and Coca-Cola), local county governments, and vocational training centers to build action-oriented, multi-stakeholder compacts that result in better education for Kenyan youth who have not completed secondary education. Students are linked to employment support services, such as apprenticeships, financial and career development services that increase their chances for formal employment or self-employment and reduce drivers of rural-urban migration.
K-YES has also been at the forefront in combating the spread of COVID-19. The program facilitated its youth beneficiaries to lead the production and dissemination of materials that help prevent the spread of the virus, including 77,000 liters of soap, 20,000 face masks, and over 300 water tanks for handwashing.
K-YES is active in nine counties: Bungoma, Garissa, Kericho, Kisii, Kwale, Migori, Nairobi, Nyeri and West Pokot.
Changing the Perception of Vocational Training
K-YES works in partnerships with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutions to enhance their capacity, service delivery, partnerships, and sustainability. Understanding the challenge of boosting the relevance and quality of training and improving the public image of TVETs, K-YES developed a Behavior Change Communications Strategy with the goal of demystifying negative perceptions in target counties.
The key messages promoting TVETs and blue-collar jobs has led to an increase in enrollment in training facilities. The training facilities use a nationally accredited vocational curriculum developed by K-YES in partnership with over fifty organizations that aligns with industry needs. In Bungoma, Rose Luturian, a wife, mother, and homemaker, completed a three-month competency-based training program and is now employed as a mechanic.