A National Employment Policy has been developed to address rising youth unemployment, which has been blamed for insecurity, disillusionment and radicalisation among young Kenyans.
Planning secretary Anne Waiguru said yesterday that the policy was awaiting Parliament’s approval. If adopted, all major projects in the country would be vetted to determine their youth employment creation potential before being given the go-ahead.
And those applying for government contracts would have to state how many youths they intend to employ before they can qualify. The government has also directed its departments to determine the number of jobs they can create for the youth.
Ms Waiguru was speaking during a Great Lakes Region conference on youth unemployment at a Nairobi hotel. The three-day meeting will discuss youth empowerment and unemployment with Kenya as a case study.
She told the conference that the government was also working with the private sector to provide internships and training for the unemployed with 13,000 youths having been trained so far. “85 per cent of the 5,000 youth who have had internship opportunities are now either fully employed or self-employed,” she said.
Official data shows that the number of Kenyans aged between 18 to 35 years has increased from 3.3 million in 1969 to 16 million currently with 90 per cent of the unemployed lack vocational skills.
Ms Waiguru said training initiatives had been rolled out to impart capacity building skills for youth enterprises to prepare them to take advantage of the government tenders.
The government has launched several initiatives aimed at empowering the youth. These include the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the Uwezo Fund.
Other measures adopted by the government include setting aside Sh200 billion worth of government tenders for the youth every year. However, the initiative has suffered from low uptake as only Sh2 billion has been absorbed since its launch two years ago.
The conference was attended by representatives from Angola, Tanzania, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Congo Republic, Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya.