Ajira drive now targets more women in plan to bridge digital divide

Zetech University Vice Chancellor Professor Njenga Munene presents a gift to ICT Innovation and Administration Secretary Ms Lucy Mulili during the official launch of the University’s Ajira Club. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The government plans to target more women as part of plans to scale up the Ajira Digital programme.

The new approach, which includes the inclusion of AjiraForShe apprenticeship - a new programme specifically for women - is aimed at bridging the digital gender divide.  

eMobilis Technology Training Institute, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) and Mastercard Foundation will implement the programme under the new plan.

Various studies show that only about 35 per cent of women are able to use advanced digital services in Kenya despite the country being ranked among the leading lights in broadband connectivity in Africa.

Kepsa project director for Ajira Digital Programme Ehud Gachugu said upskilling is key in tackling youth unemployment in a changing job market.   

“Young people need to put away the perception that there are not enough work opportunities and instead start thinking through the needs in society and businesses so that they can use their skills and talents to provide solutions,” said Mr Gachugu.

The Ajira programme has seen over 350,000 young people imparted with digital skills, with 53 per cent of them being young women.

According to official data, about 1,500 youths trained under the programme were deployed across the country to deliver digital tasks, including transcription, scanning and data entry as part of the government’s court digitalisation efforts.

It has been at the forefront of popularising the local digital economy and improving livelihoods by driving the adoption of digital and online work in Kenya.

The programme offers free digital skills training and mentorship to ease young people’s transition to jobs in the digital space.

Despite the growing popularity of apprenticeship as a proven on-the-job training model that helps individuals develop the skills for a career, many Kenyans, especially women are yet to embrace it.

According to eMobilis Programme Manager Edna Karija, the new initiative targets 70 per cent participation by young women, particularly from marginalised communities and refugee camps. “We are currently at 53 per cent of young women who have gone through the programme, when you look at global statistics, there are fewer women connected to the Internet and who are taking up digital jobs and we are looking to increase digital-enabled work for young women,” said Ms Karija.

Mastercard Foundation Programme Partner Sandra Owiti underscored the need to bring more women to the job market. 

“Young women face various barriers and if we as partners work together, we can ensure that women navigate the barriers and are able to earn a dignified income through digital and digitally-enabled work,” said Ms Owiti.

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