School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension holds the USAID Empowered Youth Training Workshop on Evidence-Informed Youth Employability Programs: Building Kenyas Higher Education Institutions Capacity

By Grace Kamere

In the last decade, a lot of attention has been paid on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Kenya in a bid to provide skilled manpower and absorb over 85% of graduates who complete their High School education every year. It is no wonder then that the number of TVET have increased from 52 in 2013 to 238 in 2021.

To further support TVET, last month, the USAID Empowered Youth (EY) convened a training workshop on Evidence-Informed Youth Employability Programs for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) at School Humanities and Social Sciences, USIU-Africa from 22nd to 24th June 2022. The training convened 37 educators and county officials in charge of technical education from Mombasa, Kiambu, Isiolo, Nakuru, Kisumu, and Kakamega. Consortium partners from Egerton, National Youth Bunge Association (NYBA), National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) and United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) graced the three-day workshop that aimed to build the institutional capacity of HEIs to use research and data to inform demand-driven programs.

While giving his opening remarks, Prof Amos Njuguna the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension highlighted the need for TVET to be responsive to the needs of the labour market while designing and implementing their academic programs. This, he said is the only way to ensure that more youth enroll and those who complete their studies are absorbed in the job market. He reiterated the role that USIU-Africa and Egerton University will play in the next five years in strengthening the capacity of TVETS in establishing career and innovation centers. Prof. Alexander Kahi, Partner Lead USAID Empowered Youth Activity from Egerton University excited participants with the novel approach that the Empowered Youth project is taking in ensuring that over 300,000 young people are placed in the job market by 2026. This approach involves conducting a targeted labor market assessment which will provide insights on the economic sectors that have the highest potential to generate jobs and pointing the youth to the actors in those sectors.

Pamela Wesonga, USAID Program Management Specialist echoed Prof. Kahi’s sentiments and reassured the team that USAID will be an unwavering partner in the endeavor to have more youth joining the labour market. Pamela termed the high number of youth completing KCSE with grades below minimum entry requirements for university admission as “a wakeup call to invest in TVET education and offer demand-driven courses.”

Appreciating the need for innovative ideas to transform TVET to be more market driven Dr. Scott Bellows, Assistant Professor, Management Chandaria School of Business took the participants through the Human Centered Design (HCD) as an approach that TVET can utilize to inform programming. The Human Centered Design is a core approach in the USAID Empowered Youth Activity. Dr. Michael Kihara Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension, USIU-Africa highlighted the need for TVET to use innovative research approaches by leveraging on institutional resources to conduct research. Jennifer Nyakinya, USAID Empowered Youth Technical Lead, concurred with Dr. Kihara encouraging the TVETs to embrace evidence informed decision making. The educators shared that albeit in small-scale, they used informal research methods to collect data which informs their development of short-courses.

The participants lauded the USAID Empowered Youth Activity for an insightful workshop which brought together stakeholders from the six counties. It is notable that such forums offer an opportunity for TVETs to appreciate the use of research data which is key in identifying demand-driven courses to increase the competitiveness of youth in the job market.

The USAID Empowered Youth (EY) is a five-year activity funded by USAID to empower Kenyan youth aged 18-24 years and adolescent girls aged 15-19 years by increasing their prospective economic opportunities, building capacity of Kenyan Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and strengthening youth-serving systems. EY is implemented by Michigan State University (MSU) and its partners United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa), Egerton University (EGU), NCBA CLUSA, and the National Youth Bunge Association (NYBA). EY activities are being implemented in six high-touch counties (i.e., Mombasa, Kiambu, Isiolo, Nakuru, Kisumu, and Kakamega) at the inception year and will be expanded to additional low-touch counties in subsequent years. For more details about USAID Empowered Youth Activity click here.

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