Inviting the Voices of Kenyan Youth on Addressing Unemployment through Targeted Skills Development.

Celebrating International Academic Cooperation

Germany has had one of the longest and most well-structured academic exchange services for African students and academics. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has been at the centre of the long-term scholarship programme. The beneficiaries of the scholarship become DAAD alumni.

The DAAD, through the Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation (exceed) programme under the African Centre for Career Enhancement and Skills Support (ACCESS), challenged African academia to the “ACCESS Idea Competition” on solving the growing youth unemployment in Africa through employability promotion at higher education institutions in Africa. The competition ran from November 1–15, 2020. The three winning ideas, from Kenya, Rwanda and Benin, were announced on November 27, 2020 (Award Ceremony).

Implementing the Winning Idea on Addressing Youth Unemployment in Kenya

Proceeding from the outcome of the continental competition is the development and implementation of Kenya’s winning ACCESS Idea by the Founder of Impact Borderless Digital (IBD): Addressing Youth Unemployment by Matching Lifelong Skills Development Needs with Talents and Labour Market Demographics. The study goal is to identify facts and informed perspectives on the key skills development needs that higher education curricula should prioritise to ensure a youth-inclusive and just transition into the post-pandemic labour market.

Informed by systems thinking principles, measures and mechanisms to facilitate early talent identification from the basic school level and sustained mentorship will be part of the study scope. The quality of learners at higher education institutions has structural interconnectedness and interdependencies with the quality of the basic education that shaped them as younger learners. The actionable intelligence arising from the study will inform the implementation of the idea over the 2020–2024 project phase.

Involving the Present and Potential IBD Mentees

The youth who have demonstrated a passion for mentorship by participating actively in the mentorship forums organised by Impact Borderless Digital (IBD) and selected youth from various higher learning institutions will be given positions in the upcoming nationwide data collection exercises. Taita Taveta University students will have the largest share. The study scope will cover all the counties in Kenya. Key informant interviews and interviews of the primary actors including policymakers, trainers, parents, and learners will be conducted to complement the published data from past surveys and existing policy documents.

Online questionnaire-based surveys will be directed at the 18–35 age group, a demographic that made up 31% of the national population according to the 2019 Kenya housing and population census. The outputs will include the priority skills development needs and the required training and mentorship models to deliver on Key Result Areas (KRAs) aligned to the policies on addressing unemployment.

The outcome should be an improved model that will:

  • facilitate early talent identification among learners;
  • inform and shape curricula to be focused on an appropriate skills revolution model, producing an upright pyramid of work-ready graduates in the recommended proportions to match evolving labour market needs for the country; and
  • promote structured mentorship and partnerships between learning institutions and industry for active labour market participation among young graduates.

Nashon J. Adero

Nashon, a geospatial expert, lecturer and trained policy analyst applies dynamic models to complex adaptive systems. He is a youth mentor on career development and the founder of Impact Borderless Digital.