We go to school so we can get good jobs and provide for ourselves and our families. That’s how it’s supposed to be and what we have been told all our lives. So we go to school and do our best to at least pass so we have a fighting chance at these jobs we were promised would be ours. Then we graduate and the reality that hits us is so harsh that our faces are frozen in shock as we tarmack looking for a job. At first, we have all these dreams and standards, but after enough tarmacking, we become desperate for any job. You know the situation is dire when there are Kenyans with Masters applying for internship positions.

This could read like anywhere in the world right now. The global recession among other factors, has led to a generation that is lagging behind in hitting our life milestones due to our inability to be financially stable. The language being used is that millennials are flighty and entitled, but that is a distraction to keep us from assigning blame to where it truly lies. The generations before us ruined the global economy, and we are paying the price. Even worse, we are the generation that came to age with the digital age and our life experiences are unprecedented. There’s no manual for our generation and so we fight to make sense of this new world while still bogged down by the expectations and rules of the old one.

Generation Z doesn’t have it any better. According to a survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), seven million Kenyans are unemployed. Out of these, 1.4 million have been desperately looking for work. The 2018 report also showed that nine in every 10 unemployed Kenyans are 35 years and below, with the largest unemployment rate recorded in the age cohort 20–24, at 19.2 per cent.

The 8th goal in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) is Decent Work and Economic Empowerment and covers promoting development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services among others. To achieve these goals will require involvement from the government as well as the private sector.

Safaricom, through the Safaricom Foundation, is supportng several economic empowerment programmes and projects focused on youth. These include:

  1. Women in Technology: This initiative is to involve more women in senior management as well as to ensure more women pursue careers in technology. The programme creates partnerships with tertiary institutions and schools to raise awareness on potential career options among young female students as well as career mentorship opportunities.
  2. Safaricom Technology Internship: Safaricom offers a 3 month internship in its technology division to a 3rd year to 5th year student  studying Computer Science and any Engineering or ICT related fields. The students are immersed in the innovation and implementation of projects at the company, in a bid to develop relevant job ready skills for future employment.
  3. Wezesha: This is a programme under Safaricom Foundation’s new strategy that focuses on youth empowerment in Kenya. Wezesha aims to connect people to opportunities by empowering them with proven practical solutions for employment and self-employment.

Wezesha programme has partnered with Generation Kenya to equip youth in unemployment aged 18-35 with the knowledge, skills and tools required to succeed in a job, and positioning them for ongoing personal and professional success. This partnership will support intensive job training for 1,600 youth aged 18-25 years in Vocational Training Centers across the country. The training ensures students receive job-ready skills in financial services sales, distributed sales, retail and restaurant services, sewing machine operation and customer service. 

The Generation Kenya program is funded by USAID and McKinsey & Company and works closely with the Government of Kenya through Technical Vocational Education and Trainings (TVETs), providing these institutions with a best-in-class curriculum and methodology for training young people for employment.

The majority of those who participate in the Generation Kenya program are secondary school leavers who have struggled to find work. They undergo a four to eight week long intensive training in sectors such as financial services, retail, hospitality, consumer goods, customer service and apparel manufacturing. The trainees are guaranteed an interview with one of the various Generation Kenya employer partners. To date, Generation in Kenya has graduated 9,000+ youth with 88% of them placed into meaningful employment, and Safaricom Foundation has committed KES 39 million for the next three years towards the programme .

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We go to school so we can get good jobs and provide for ourselves and our families. That’s how it’s supposed to be and what we have been told all our lives. So we go to school and do our best to at least pass so we have a...