Some 5,000 university students will be put on internship in counties starting September in a new government programme aimed at boosting competence and national cohesion.
Deputy President William Ruto Tuesday announced a further 15,000 students will be deployed to work as interns in counties far from their homes next year.
The move, he said, aims at boosting national cohesion and rooting out ethnic-based rifts that have dogged the country while ensuring relevant skills are imparted to drive the economy.
“We will launch a volunteer programme for university students where they will work in a different county from theirs for six months,” said Mr Ruto during the launch of a mentorship programme by Keroche Breweries in Nairobi on Tuesday.
“We have the first 5,000 students joining the programme this September. This will help eliminate the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality and instead be replaced with that of ‘my country.’’
Graduates have persistently raised concern over being shunned by employers for lack of job experience.
The new development offers students a huge advantage in the face of the shrinking employment space. The Kenya Industrial Training Institute meant to link learners with employers can only absorb a small number of graduates for placement.
The State said that Kenya needs a competent pool of workers to drive its development agenda towards becoming a middle-income economy by 2030, thus the focus on university students.
Mr Ruto said that the government will set up 60 additional technical training institutions (TTIs) in the next financial year, starting July to address skills shortage.
“We have budgeted to build 60 new technical training institutions,” said the Deputy President.
“We have agreed that the government will contribute Sh40 million.”
He said the State is seeking additional funds for the programme.
A recent audit revealed that Kenya is experiencing a shortage of artisans of up to 450,000, prompting a strategic rethink, he said. This is attributable to a shift of preference among students who are now shunning technical education for perceived glamorous degree courses.
Kenya is planning to build a standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Malava, a project expected to expose the dire shortage of technical skills.
The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia (Lapsset) infrastructure project is equally set to stretch the available skills.
The Deputy President encouraged private players to step in and bridge the gap created by skills mismatch between graduates and job market needs.