The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) in collaboration with Partnership for Social and Governance Research (PASGR) will hold a one day county forum on ‘Youth Employment Creation in Agriculture and Agro-Processing in Kenya and the role of Utafiti Sera (research-policy community)’ on March 1, 2018 at Westside Hotel in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County. The forum aims to share lessons and form consensus on policy actions to enable counties serve as centers of development in supporting the relevant youth agenda.
What is Utafiti Sera?
Utafiti Sera is an initiative developed as part of PASGR’s research-policy engagement process. It represents a community of researchers and policy actors working together to enhance research evidence to ensure that appropriate policy actions occur through programmes, legislation and policies.
On December 7, 2017, a stakeholder mapping forum on youth employment creation in agriculture and agro processing was held in Nairobi. The objective of the mapping exercise was to identify strategic actors and contact persons who will act as liaison for Utafiti Sera and as a preliminary engagement for evaluating the approach for discussion in the county forum.
The county dialogue builds on the mapping of actors in which Utafiti Sera house members identified knowledge gaps for policy consideration. These include; skills gap, limited mentorship of youth entrepreneurs, and limited budget allocation from county and national government to agriculture, inadequate access to enterprise financing and poor governance in value chains.
As a result, Utafiti Sera has organized this first county forum on youth employment in efforts to present evidence, enhance dialogue and build consensus on possible policy actions such as;
- Workplace learning for youth employment creation in Agriculture sector
The Kenya’s National Training Authority Act Apprenticeship and Internship provides for internship in the formal sector but there is no assurance of job placement or support to start own business thereafter. Moreover, most employment opportunities exist in the informal sector where youth entrepreneurs and employees have under developed professional skills, lack accreditation and recognition of their intangible knowledge.
- Youth getting gainful employment or setting up a business
A major concern for the youth is getting gainful employment or setting up a business. Hence, there is need to bridge the gap between the available jobs and the needed skills –which require more training and mentoring for young people to gain the 21st century life skills to improve communication and self-confidence especially in pitching business ideas. This calls for bridging the gap of skills needs versus vocational training and reforming the curriculum. These skills can be learned through life experience from interactions with parents, teachers, and friends, among others. At the same time there are now many training initiatives offered by donor agencies. These initiatives are beginning to make a small impact. However, the ’elephant in the house’ still remains how to make a big impact for thousands of unemployed youth specially those who do not transit to high school, do not finish high school and don’t go to university.
The following messages are discernible from the literature scan:
- Youth unemployment is a big problem. Thus, we can’t do it alone. We need to come together in order to make big impact.
- Young people are diverse and dynamic –to capture this dynamism –we must make sure that they are put at the centre.
- There is need to mentor the youth.
- There is need for contributors and partners to support young people.
Bridging policy gaps on youth employment creation
- In Kenya, policy on youth exists as part of different policies but there is no specific policy for apprenticeship other than the National Training Authority Act.
- The existing Act focuses more on the formal sector yet the jobs available are in the informal sector, which has under developed skills and lacks recognition of intangible knowledge.
- There is need for a new apprenticeship policy that blends formal knowledge and skills system into the informal system to tap into the existing employment opportunities for the youth.
- This policy learning and change process can begin first in the national level then flow to the county government level.