The initiative will provide the Wings to Fly Programme alumni with enterprise skills and gain life and employable exposure and skills.

Equity Group Foundation (EGF) in conjunction with its partners; the German Government through its implementing agency KfW, Equity Bank, and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) has today launched a youth empowerment programme that will see the entire group of nearly 3,000 Wings to Fly graduate scholars who sat for their 2016 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (K.C.S.E.) Examinations transition into Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions countrywide. 

The objective of this initiative is to provide the Wings to Fly alumni (whether headed for further education, employment, or entrepreneurial opportunities) with life and employability exposure and skills. While some of them will enrol for 3-month certificate courses, others will be admitted to longer-term diploma courses with a scholarship covering their first 6 months and thereafter apply to the Higher Education Loans Board (H.E.L.B.) to finance the rest of their education. 

Speaking during the launch, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Fred Matiang’i said that the ministry is committed to investing in the development of technical and vocational training to address the skills gap in the country’s work force. These efforts align well with the Government’s agenda on embracing the role of tertiary and technical training in national development as well as EGF’s vision to transform the socio-economic lives of the people of Africa. 

“The Vision 2030 has placed new demands on Technical & Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a leading engine that the economy must essentially rely upon to produce adequate levels of middle level work force that will be needed to drive the economy towards the attainment of the vision. TVET institutions offer opportunity for many young people to gain tech skills both for self and formal employment.”

Kenya has over 60 public and private TVET institutions and another 70 are under construction, which offer a wide range of training programmes from certificate to diploma levels. They offer a variety of courses including building construction; carpentry and joinery, commercial-based fields; engineering, textile-based programmes, catering, hospitality, plus information and communication technology.

EGF’s Chairman, Dr. James Mwangi announced that the 2,818 Wings to Fly alumni have already undergone a 3-day induction to sensitize them on TVET as well as career advice aimed at positioning their mindset on employability and informing them on appropriate choices of courses to be pursued. The initiative has offered an opportunity to highlight public-private partnerships as well as demystify technical and vocational training as an avenue for building employability skills. It has also demonstrated the commitment to support quality education as enshrined in Kenya’s economic blueprint, Vision 2030, as well as supporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

EGF together with other partners will continue to work with the Directorate of TVET to ensure that the scholars secure admission and placement in appropriate institutions based on their identified course and geographical preferences.  

“Given the high rates of youth unemployment, skills-based training offers the fastest way to secure jobs and to advance in a technical skills-based career path. We are designing a program with several elements to ensure successful transitions through school and into the work place.  The initiative is a set of focused, connected interventions that are informed by EGF’s firsthand experience through the Wings to Fly program 2013-2015 alumni who are currently enrolled in TVET institutions, ” Dr. Mwangi added. 

Declining enrollment levels, particularly in the traditional engineering and construction based courses, pose a serious challenge to the country’s policy of industrialization, yet industries play a pivotal role in development and growth of the economy. This further exacerbates the mismatch between formal training currently offered and requirements of employers. 

On its part, the German Government through its representative, Professor Dr. Hidegard Lingnau, Head of Development Cooperation, reassured the scholars of the German government’s continued support through its implementing agency KfW.

“We are happy to join you in this endeavour of technical and vocational training and we will extend our focus in this area of cooperation from this year forward. This support will facilitate in skills development and employment of the beneficiaries”, said Prof Dr Lingnau.

Speaking on behalf of the Wings to Fly partners, Reeta Roy, President and CEO The MasterCard Foundation encouraged the graduates to take up the TVET Scholarships. “In Kenya, we have a need for skilled trades.  So, think about vocational education as a means to continue learning and earning! I encourage you to seize this opportunity to expand your portfolio of skills,” said Reeta Roy. 

“The advanced economies such as Germany, S. Korea and Singapore are home to the world’s most competitive industries that produce world-class automobiles, electronics, and medical equipment.  This is largely thanks to those governments’ investments in vocational education that has developed a highly skilled, technically competent and well-compensated workforce,” she added.

“Equity Group, this year, is providing internships to 600 of the 2,818 graduates through the Equity Bank Paid Pre-University Internship program (Equity Leadership Program). We invite other organizations and institutions to collaborate and partner with us, particularly in the provision of additional internships and employment opportunities. We believe that availing these opportunities to our youth equip them with skills that would greatly address the above challenges, especially unemployment,” said Dr Mwangi.

In 2015, the MasterCard Foundation funded a pilot to help Wings to Fly Scholars transition from secondary education by equipping them with vocational skills. The results were impressive. Now, the Government of Kenya and KfW have expanded this program to enable nearly 3000 Wings to Fly Graduates to acquire new skills in practical trades.

This programme fits well within the government’s resolve to boost youth employment, and potentially raising the country’s economic prospects. The Government of Kenya has shown commitment towards investments in the TVET sector and there has been gradual implementation of the same. 

 

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