By Dan Muchai

USIU-Africa together with two other firms, has won a bid to train 34000 youths on a 10-day course on positive behaviour and employability, over a period of three years. The Kenya Youth Employment Opportunities Project (KYEOP) is funded by the International Development Association (IDA) through the Ministry of Public Service Youth and Gender Affairs. Participants will address the challenges experienced by the youth in seeking employment opportunities.

The training is targeted at young people living in 6 counties in Kenya namely; Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kitui, Nyandarua and Nakuru, and who are aged between 16 and 29 years of age. They must also have only completed their high school education, be without jobs and have experienced extended spells of unemployment or who are currently working in vulnerable jobs.

­While signing the contract, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, lamented the challenges experienced by young people in seeking employment, observing that the 15 to 35 age group is rapidly converting to adult population having increased from 62.7% in 1979 to 66.6% in 2009. He therefore hailed the program as a game changer in improving the livelihoods of the youth and improving Kenya’s economic growth.

Prof. Zeleza further commended USIU-Africa for building on its long history of delivering soft skills training to the youth, having been the only University that won the bid to offer the program.

The project, will be executed in 9 cycles; the first one commencing in October 2018, where USIU-Africa will train 1613 youths in a non-residential setting using experiential learning in venues convenient to youth in each of the six counties. The training covers contemporary domains affecting the society such as gender violence, alcohol and drug abuse, human sexuality and HIV/AIDS, emerging forms of violence and integrity, amongst others.

Commenting on the significance of the project, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension Prof. Amos Njuguna, noted that the project will increase the number of programs targeting youth employability in USIU-Africa to four -  the other three being the Launch Pad, which offers core business skills to enable youths to start their businesses; Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation (ESI) that is sponsored by Devki Group of Companies to provide critical entrepreneurial and work ethic skills to fresh graduates; and the Metro-Agribusiness Living Lab that focuses on young people interested in agri-business.