Skill training and apprenticeships to Kenya youth to fight against high unemployment

Centurion Systems Ltd (CSL), a technology firm serving the industrial sector in east Africa, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to increase the employ-ability of 465 low-income Kenyan youth through industry-relevant skills training and apprenticeships by 2017. The company will train 110 lecturers across various industries, including food and beverage, industrial automation and motion control. Kenya faces an acute youth bulge, with 80% of the country’s population age 35 or younger. Of particular concern is the high level of youth unemployment: 70% of Kenya’s employment-age young men and women are not able to secure jobs. Two leading causes are low education and the lack of appropriate labor market skills.

In an effort to reduce the skills gap between academia and industry, Centurion is offering students industry-relevant, competency-based courses, which include intensive hands-on technical training and exposure to the types of electronic machines used in today’s industry. The five-day modular-based programme takes place at both Centurion Systems’ training facility and on site at plants and factories. More than 2,000 young people have completed the technical training so far, with over 70% of Centurion graduates securing employment opportunities.

“The greatest challenge that faces most youth today is the lack of employment prospects and pathways to a sustainable livelihood”, says Dr Kevit Desai, Centurion’s managing director. “Centurion’s initiatives seek to up-skill the youths with current, industry-relevant skills and knowledge while at the same time gaining practical work experience and additional life skills. This, in turn, promotes employment, innovation, livelihoods development and entrepreneurship. We are pleased to have our efforts recognized by the Business Call to Action”. Scaling up existing initiatives and piloting new ones is key to Centurion’s inclusive business model, in collaboration with Nairobi Bottlers Ltd and Krones East Africa, the company plans to establish a centre of excellence for the food and beverage industry, and train 240 youths and 10 lecturers from throughout the country. The company will also expand its existing cross-sector training programme to enhance the skills of at least 200 youth and 100 lecturers in industrial automation and motion control. And it will integrate a life-skills and employ-ability component into its technical training programmes in collaboration with the International Youth Fund. The pilot programme will include 25 students from the cement industry to undergo six months of technical training. While Centurion’s programmes are open to all young people attending vocational schools who have a background in electrical and mechanical engineering, disadvantaged youth will be prioritized.

“Inclusive businesses like Centurion, who are striving to tackle the problem of youth unemployment, are on the front lines in the private sector’s efforts to achieve the first Sustainable Development Goal: ending poverty in all its forms everywhere,” said Sahba Sobhani, BCtA’s acting project manager. “We are pleased to welcome them to the project and look forward to their progress.”