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Apprenticeships and internships key to tackling unemployment

THE STANDARD
April 25th 2022
Every year universities, tertiary colleges and vocational training centres release graduates to the labour market. [iStock]

Recent preliminary findings of a study conducted by Kenyatta University Women’s Economic empowerment Hub that sought to establish the impact of Apprenticeship, Internship and Mentorship (AIM) Programmes on Employment of Young Women shows that there exists a positive relationship between internship and apprenticeship, and employment.

The unemployment rate was lower for those who had gone through apprenticeship (19 per cent) compared to those who had gone through internship (45 per cent) and mentorship (40 per cent) programmes.

Further, for the females who had participated in the AIM’s programme, 81 per cent of those who had a degree were employed while only 50 per cent of those who had secondary school education or diploma were employed.

For males who had participated in the programme, 67 per cent of those who had secondary school education were employed compared to 50 per cent who had diploma or degree level of education. However, gender and marital status were found not to have significant effects on employment status.

Despite the fact that many successful men and women who went through the programmes acknowledged that they were an eye-opener to their careers and gained valuable skills and knowledge on the job training that helped them open their new horizons on career path, this was not the case for most of the participants in the KU-WEE Hub’s study since most had not secured employment and those who had were still earning low wages that were not commensurate with their skills. Thus, youth unemployment continues to be rampant and limits full exploitation of the young men and women’s potential and abilities to participate fully in the economy.

Although the government spends billions of shillings to educate youths in this country, the return on this investment is considerably low due to the high unemployment levels. As the country continues to implement the skill-intensive competency-based curriculum, the government needs to bridge the gap between access to work readiness programmes and available job opportunities.

We should consider building the capacity of graduates on entrepreneurial skills early at their primary level so that they can develop innovative and creative entrepreneurial minds. They also need time to be mentored, nurtured and to observe workable and successful business ideas that their mentors have.

Further, a clear transparent national online and physical information desk indicating the existing job opportunities and skills needed may be established to give them hope and raise their awareness on the existence of such opportunities. Currently, there are disparities to access to such information between youths in rural and urban centres.

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