Half-baked graduates? Generation Kenya has a solution

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President Uhuru Kenyatta awards a certificate to one of Generation Kenya graduates.

The statistics are scary; more than 75 million young people across the world are unemployed. In Kenya, youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb. According to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics Labour Force report that was released in March this year, 1.22 million unempoloyed Kenyans were aged between the ages of 15 and 34, translating to an unemployment rate of 11.4%.
Although most young people looking for jobs have university degrees, college diplomas or certificates, they struggle to find entry-level jobs.
Employers decry a skills mismatch among employees in the labor market, a trend that exacerbates the youth unemployment problem.
According to the 2010/2011 National Manpower Survey Basic Report (NMS), each year, our education and training institutions churn out tens of thousands of graduates who end up in careers for which they were not trained.
Generation, an independent, global nonprofit founded in 2014 by McKinsey & Company aims to bridge this gap, at speed and scale. The organization is now present in five countries, including Kenya.
In Kenya, Generation was launched in 2015 with an objective of providing young adults with the opportunity to launch successful careers that can change their life trajectories. Other than empowering the youth to launch sustainable careers, the program provides employers with highly skilled talent that they need.
Samson Gitonga, Generation Kenya’s communication and Alumni coördinator says that the nonprofit organization supports disconnected young people to build thriving, sustainable careers and to provide employers the highly skilled, motivated talent they need to improve business outcomes.
“We train young people in bootcamps,” says Gitonga, adding that the youth are equipped with technical and soft skills to enhance their employability. Generation Kenya has grown from one training location in Nairobi in 2015 to 31 across 20 counties.
To reach out to more youths, the program partnered with 350 employers in Kenya and vocational training intuitions in 40 locations across Kenya.
They run four key programs namely: Sewing machines operator, distributed sales, financial services sales, and Retail and restaurant. Through the four programs, young people are recruited, trained and placed in entry level or middle level skill roles across a range of industries and professions, including healthcare, skilled trades like machine operators, customer service and sales, and digital and technology.
For the last four years, the program has achieved impressive milestones in Kenya, graduating over 15000 young people and linking many others to gainful employment.
If market perceptions are any measure, Generation stands out as one of the few programs that has had a lasting impact on Kenyan youth.
According to Mr. Gitonga, 84% of their partner employers report that Generation graduates outperform their peers at the workplace, with 83% of the employers saying they would hire Generation graduates again. Impressively, these graduates have a 66% retention rate, with most of them retaining their jobs a year after employment.
Given its hands on approach, the program’s impact in the few years it has operated in Kenya has been phenomenal and wide-reaching, changing the lives of those who really deserve such programs. For instance, the program notes that 55% of its beneficiaries are female, while 42% of the trainees have dependents.
81% of trainees who have successfully passed through the hands of Generation Kenya report that they landed a job within the first 90 days after completion of the program.
So, how does Generation Kenya reach its target population?
“We work closely with community leaders, youth leaders and the local elected leaders like Members of County Assemblies to scale our programs,” says Gitonga. To keep the trainees numbers manageable, Generation Kenya undertakes a rigorous screening process that starts online. Employers also screen the trainees before absorbing them. “We appreciate that not everyone is a perfect fit,” he adds.
Gitonga adds that the program is keen on training many young people as it seeks to scale to all counties, creating a lasting impact that will be felt for generations to come.

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