What do you want to be when you grow up?
This question has surely crossed your mind countless times.
As you journey through life, your answers evolve, influenced by the experiences and encounters that shape your path. For some individuals, their dreams and ambitions become more distinct, attainable, and vivid. However, for others, circumstances beyond their control gradually distance them from their aspirations. Unfortunately, this is the reality for over one million Kenyan youth who enter the workforce each year, with an inadequate number of job opportunities. Among these youths, some possess high levels of skills, while others lack in skills.
Consequently, the future appears bleak.
In response, DCA and partners designed the Ajira Poa! (meaning ‘cool’ or ‘good jobs’) project to be a sustainable model for youth employment and self-employment through the provision of career counselling and various life skills reinforced by an integrated digital blended learning platform and supported by labour-market specific, public and private sector initiatives to help youth become more employable through the attainment of relevant skills.
A key strategy in the project involves identifying mentors who can take on apprentices to provide hands-on learning experiences in their areas of interest, while also giving a chance to capture the knowledge and skills of experienced professionals in various trades, passing them on to the next generation of capable workers.
As of May 2023, the project has collaborated with 59 businesses in Nyandarua, West Pokot and Nakuru counties, providing apprenticeship training programmes to over 289 young individuals. Whether it be machining, industrial maintenance, metal fabrication, or sewing, the model of apprenticeship has skilled youths, gently nudging them towards their potential in employment or entrepreneurship.
Guidance and support ignite hope
Picture a majestic lighthouse, standing tall and unwavering amidst the crashing waves and treacherous rocks, casting its brilliant beam of light across the vast expanse of darkness. This image perfectly encapsulates the mentors I encountered as I journeyed through the rural towns of these counties, to capture and share the stories of apprentices under the tutelage of passionate artisans.
Through the guidance of these mentors, the dreams of the apprentices have blossomed, becoming clearer, more attainable, and even grander. The guidance and support have ignited a spark of hope within the youth, transforming what once seemed like a bleak future into one filled with hope, promise and potential.
Read the stories below.