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Deal opens door for girls to join automotive engineering field

EDUCATION
By Peterson Githaiga | October 9th 2021

Labour CS Simon Chelugoi (center) and Korean Ambassador to Kenya Choi Yeonghan during the opening of Hyundai Dream Center in Athi River, Machakos County. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

Disadvantaged girls with an interest in automotive engineering can now look forward to a bright future following the launch of a partnership that will see 120 young girls sponsored to undertake a three-year advanced course.

The training to be jointly sponsored by Plan International, Hyundai Motors-Korea and Salvador Caetano-Kenya will be conducted at Hyundai Dream Centre situated at the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), Athi River.

The automotive training and educational facility seeks to encourage more women and girls to join the automotive field.

The beneficiaries, who hail from some of Kenya’s most marginalised regions such as the Turkana, Kwale and Kajiado are aged between 18 and 35 years.

Apart from studying motor vehicle auto-electrics, the cohort will thereafter go through an extensive internship programme with Hyundai Motor Company to improve their employability skills.

Through the vocational course, the girls will gain both technical and non-technical skills.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said, “I foresee a bright future in our country where trainees from this centre will be some of the most sought-after skilled professionals in the automotive space.’’

According to Chelugui, the government, through multi-sectoral partnership with Hyundai (Caetano-Kenya) and Plan International, will play a significant milestone in ensuring that the country meets its development agenda of promoting quality, relevance and inclusivity in education and quality skills development as enablers for socio-economic development and global competitiveness.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui (R) the launch of the programme. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

South Korea Ambassador to Kenya Choi Yeonghan said he was encouraged by the bilateral relations with the Kenyan government in providing platforms that give needy young women and men a social-economic opportunity to acquire and hone their skills.

“Kenya and Korea share some similar historical backgrounds. In Korea, Hyundai Motors play a big role in building the country’s economic growth,” Yeonghan said.

‘’Today, it is such a great honour to be part of this great initiative that seeks to uplift the livelihoods of young men and women in one of the most equipped automotive training and educational facility in Kenya- the Hyundai Dream Centre,” said Yeonghan.

At the same time, the CS appealed to the youth to embrace vocational institutional courses to help bridge the unemployment gap in the country.

Chelugui also challenged the young not to depend on white-collar jobs but embrace technical skills offered at various institutions in the country

He also challenged parents to ensure their children explore other avenues of earning a living.

‘’If we want to drive our economy towards success, let's all embrace technical jobs rather than wait for office work only,’’ said the CS.

Chulugui said that the government plans to expand the Athi River-based NITA in order to give an opportunity to more people to benefit from the programme.

‘’We want to see thousands of youth gaining from this particular programme. We will extend this facility to accommodate more people,’’ said the CS.

Chelugui noted that the automotive sector supports many other sectors of the economy, hence creating a multiplier effect in many economies.

Kenya is one of the developing countries in Africa that experiences a high rate of unemployment, particularly among the youth.

Hyundai Dream Centre will help stimulate growth in the local automotive industry using the latest technology. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

According to the 2019 National Population and Housing Census, the youth make up for 75% of the total population. Unemployment among the youth is significantly larger, 40% to be precise, than that of the entire working-age group.

Established by Hyundai Motors, Hyundai Dream Centre will help stimulate growth in the local automotive industry using the latest technology. The centre creates employment opportunities in the automotive field for youth from underprivileged communities.

Plan International Kenya Country Director Kate Maina-Vorley says women and girls must challenge the perception that courses such as automotive engineering are male-dominated.

“A mismatch between employer needed skills and skills acquired from training institutions has been identified as among the major causes of unemployment. Kenyan employers are increasingly finding graduates, male and female alike, insufficiently prepared for the workplace. The industry is equally advancing much faster technologically than our education institutions,” said Maina-Vorley.

It is estimated that 21% of female youth are unemployed compared to 17% of their male counterparts.

Even among the 42% of youths not in employment, education and training (NEET), female youth are disproportionately represented within the group, significantly higher than males at 14%, further confirming that access to employment and opportunities to earn a living in the country are cut along age and gender lines.

Women, youth and those from low-income households are more likely to be excluded from jobs, particularly better-quality jobs.

According to Maina-Vorley, women are a driving force in the Kenyan economy and the programme will give them the tools to unlock their capabilities in a male-dominated industry.

‘’It is worth noting that as much as efforts and initiatives towards addressing unemployment especially amongst the young people are in place, young women and girls are still the most affected and far prepared for the labour market than their male counterparts,” she said.

The Hyundai Dream Centre project is a three-year project funded by Hyundai Motor Company-Korea. The project is implemented in Kenya by a consortium of three partners and led by Plan International Kenya.

The other two consortium members are NITA–Athi River and Salvador Caetano Kenya. The Hyundai Dream Centre – Kenya is among the seven dream centres in the world.

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