The International Youth Day that was marked on August 12 was preceded by a national youth week. This was an opportune time to celebrate the youth’s contribution to nation-building besides reflecting on the challenges facing them. The Constitution prescribes a youth as a person aged between 15 to 35 years. and they account for 32 percent of the total population.
In the year 2003, the Narc administration introduced affirmative policy strategies to enhance youth capacities and abilities and probably expedite the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Meanwhile, thousands of youths fresh from colleges join the job market yearly, but only a few get absorbed in spite of their qualifications.
Ironically, the Federation of Kenya Employers has expressed concern about the human capital churned out by our institutions of learning, regarding lack of appropriate skills and expertise required in the market.
Establishment of a ministry purposely handling youth affairs was a starting point in youth empowerment and a platform for the advancement of targeted affirmative actions.
In spite of the efforts, aptitude gaps, inadequate support systems, and the inability to utilise acquired knowledge productively were among the challenges the youth had to surmount.
Unlike in the post-independence era, employment opportunities were available regardless of qualifications and slowly by slowly nurtured to professionalism. Such platforms nourished the skills, experience, and exposure required for the market. Individuals would also earn a living, build on savings and investments.
The tides have since shifted, with joblessness being a common denominator in the job market. Again, skilled resource is poorly compensated and only engaged on contractual terms.
Similarly, the beneficiaries of the government-sponsored internship programme have little to show from the process as opportunities for them to exercise the acquired skills are limited.
Again, affirmative actions under the youth fund, Uwezo fund, and women fund as models for advancing capital to the youth, women, and people living with disabilities in wealth creation are yet to be felt by the target constituents.
Altogether, the majority of the upcoming entrepreneurs have inadequate skills, exposure, and knowhow to establish and build successful business ventures. Therefore only a few can meet the appended requirements and bureaucracies.
Notably, this kind of capital advancement for the business start-up to upcoming entrepreneurs is a model financing module if streamlined.
To mainstream the affirmative actions with the youth agenda, youths should be encouraged to build on their skills first, then seek for capital support. Considering that not all fit to do business, and also cognisant that no known areas are yet to be exploited, emphasis should be on research and innovations.
In avoiding the youth bulge, there should be deliberate efforts to engage them constructively. Again, we should inspire many to take up tertiary and vocational pieces of training and even support onward specialisation to advanced levels.
That way, we will have empowered and developed a vibrant, independent, knowledgeable youthful workforce with diversity and choices to engage. Those other affirmative options should target the acquisition of appropriate hardware. This way, there will be equity in support spread, increased coverage, and enhanced absorption rate.
Kiragu Kariuki, Nyeri County.