Inside Generation Kenya’s plan to empower jobless millennials

A large youthful population would be viewed as an economic blessing. But it is hard to be optimistic about a problem that is tormenting the lives of so many young Kenyans – Joblessness.

Official figures assembled by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), says that Youth unemployment in Kenya rose to 22.2 percent, while the US-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB), had a moderate figure which put joblessness among Kenyans aged between 15 and 24 years at 20.3 percent.

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There is scant proof that unsound economic policies and poorly run labor markets in emerging economies like Kenya have resulted in a jobless generation.

A failure to employ the young not only lowers growth today. It also threatens it tomorrow. Young people have long had a raw deal in the labor market. The situation has further been exacerbated by two pressing issues.

The most obvious one is poor basic education. Secondly, there is a glaring mismatch between the skills that young Kenyans offer and the ones that employers need. But Generation Kenya (GK) has a plan.

The global non-profit organization is actively recruiting and training the youth on apprenticeship skills for high growth sectors ranging from textile designs, finance, retail and restaurant, food and beverage, and consumer goods.

To date, Generation Kenya and its funding partners who include USAID, McKinsey & Company and the Safaricom foundation among others have trained over 18,000 candidates. Of this, 83% of them have landed meaningful employment through a network of more than 200 employer partners across Kenya.

During the 8th graduation ceremony held at the KICC where more than 5,000 young Kenyans graduated after a 4-8 weeks training period, Generation Kenya CEO, Ramakrishnan Hariharan emphasized the need for a more collaborative approach to tackling the youth unemployment menace.

“Partnerships and collaboration are key to achieving this at scale. Hence the need to adopt a bottoms-up approach by working closely with County Governments, TVET institutions and employers” he said.


A survey by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found that countries with the lowest youth jobless rates often have a close relationship between education and work. 

Many countries are now trying to bridge the gap between education and work by upgrading vocational schools, encouraging standard schools to form closer relations with local companies, and embracing apprenticeships.

Countries and responsible organizations that make the investments and choices needed to deal with their unemployed youth could see some dramatic improvement ahead.

On her part, Safaricom’s Chief Customer Officer and a trustee of the Safaricom Foundation – Ms. Sylvia Mulinge; reiterated the telco’s commitment to delivering a thriving youthful population.

“We continue to look for more opportunities to partner with like-minded people and organizations in our goal to transform the lives of Kenyans,” she said.

She was speaking at Generation Kenya’s 8th graduation ceremony held at KICC, a colorful ceremony that was officiated by ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru.

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