Kenya faces an acute youth bulge, with 80 percent of the country’s population age 35 or younger and 37 percent of between 15 and 35. Of particular concern is the high level of youth unemployment: 70 percent of Kenya’s employment-age young men and women are not able to secure jobs. Two leading causes are low educational attainment and the lack of appropriate labour market skills.
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 employability of 465 low-income Kenyan youth through industry-relevant skills training and apprenticeships by 2017. To accomplish its goals, the company will train 110 lecturers across various industries, including food and beverage, industrial automation and motion control.
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 percent of Centurion graduates securing employment opportunities.
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 Center 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 employability component into its technical training programmes in collaboration with the International Youth Fund. The pilot programme will include 25 students from the cement industry, who will 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.