Kenya: comprehensive package for young people entering the labour market

Giving young people practical experience and working closely with companies helps overcome prejudices and creates job prospects, particularly for women.

‘Some people told me they didn’t employ women. Others advised me to apply for an office job,’ says Mercy Marete. Her search for work after graduating was very frustrating, and she almost gave up – despite having studied mechanical engineering, she couldn’t even find an internship. Many young Kenyans are in a similar position. The country has an unemployment rate of 22 per cent – the highest in East Africa. As a result of persistent prejudices and a lack of equal opportunities, women are particularly hard hit. But despite all the difficulties she faced to begin with, Mercy Marete now has a permanent contract with a pharmaceuticals company. Her route to success was supported by the Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) initiative.

On behalf of the German Development Ministry (BMZ) and in collaboration with the private sector, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been implementing the E4D initiative since 2015 in Kenya, Mozambique, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon and South Africa. It offers young people entering the labour market a comprehensive and personalised professional development package to help them make a successful start to their career. More than 70 international and local companies are involved in the programme. This close cooperation with the private sector gives participants direct contact to companies and potential business partners and offers a broad range of placement services to help them gain practical job experience. The initiative, which is cofinanced by the European Union, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and other partners, creates prospects not only for jobseekers, however, but also for the companies taking part. Local firms in particular benefit from the programme because it gives them access to training, for example on financial management. This holistic approach supports both companies and employees and contributes to sustainable economic growth.

More jobs, better jobs

Mercy is not the only person to have benefited from this approach – more than a third of those participating in the training courses are women, and over half are young people. Overall, more than 32,000 people have found permanent work though the E4D initiative. Nearly 71,000 people have increased their income by at least 10 per cent. At the same time, almost 31,000 people now enjoy better working conditions because more than 35,000 companies have taken advantage of the training provided by E4D so far, meaning they have been able to offer more attractive jobs.

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