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Curbing youth unemployment, one reform at a time

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Victor training youth on sustainble developement during the Internation Youth Day

Kennedy is only 25 years. As a firstborn in a family of seven, he started working at the age of 16 years to support his parents in providing for the family. Kennedy’s parents earn a weekly allowance of $8 which is not enough to support his five siblings. In April 2020, Kennedy was rendered jobless because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a youth who only studied up to high school, he is currently not able to access formal employment. Kennedy is just an example of millions of youth around the world who have been rendered jobless because of Covid-19.

What started as a global health crisis has now turned into an economic crisis with millions of people around the globe being rendered jobless. A report by the Africa Union estimates that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 20 million jobs, both in the formal and informal sectors, are threatened with destruction. Most of these will be rendered jobless are working youth between the age of 15 and35 years. Today there are 1.8 billion people in the world between the ages of 15 and 35 — a quarter of the global population. This is the largest generation of youth and young people the world has ever known. Young adults are the backbone of every society, providing energy, ideas, and investment potential. As of June 2020, over 770,000 youth in Kenya had lost their jobs due to Covid-19. The Government estimates that the numbers will rise to 1,000,000 by December 2020. This number is different from the 800,000 youth who were initially jobless in Kenya before covid-19.

Effect of unemployment among the youth

Kenya is currently witnessing a high rate of crime among the youth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the rate of unemployment among the youth increases in a country, the result is catastrophic. The youth are likely to engage in unhealthy activities including, but not limited to crime and violence, drug abuse, an increase in unplanned pregnancies and poor leadership choices. The lockdown and quarantine measures imposed by different governments have also resulted to a high level of stress, depression and anxiety. The current environment has left little room for creativity and innovation among many young people. It is important to note that the unemployment challenge did not start when the pandemic hit. The problem started way before that. How do we ensure that we create sustainable unemployment opportunities for youth?

Garden of Hope Foundation Model

The leadership development and entrepreneurship project started by theGarden of Hope Foundation aims to equip youth in rural communities and urban slums with sustainable social entrepreneurship skills. The current education system does not leave much room for creativity and innovation. In a society where some careers are more “glorified” than others, it is very difficult for young people to pursue their ideal passions.

Since founding Garden of Hope Foundation, Victor and his team have been able to reach over 20,000 youth across 5 counties.

Garden of Hope Foundation allows young people in people in urban slums and rural communities to create their own employment opportunities by looking at challenges in their communities and developing solutions to those challenges. Using design thinking approach, the youth are exposed to all sustainable development goals. They are then encouraged to pick goals that resonate with them and challenges they face in the communities. They are then taken through a rigorous process where their ideas are refined to meet the social entrepreneurship aspect. Once they are good to launch their ventures, Garden of Hope Foundation, through support from other stakeholders, provides funding and continuous mentorship to the learners.

Since we started, over 200 diverse ideas have been developed by the youth. These ideas have created over 500 employment opportunities. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen youth develop several ideas to respond to the needs in their various communities. Our commitment to decent jobs is to support 2,000 youth by 2024. The youth will be supported through creation of employment opportunities, financing their business ideas and mentorship.

Challenge to the government and other stakeholders

A section of the youth that Victor helps equip tech skills

Radical changes in the education system: The current education systems leaves no room for students to explore other interests apart from what has already been defined for them either in the books or by those ahead of them. Deliberate radical change is needed in the education system to allow room for creativity and innovation. This will encourage the students to start developing world class ideas at an early age.

Leveraging on Partnerships: In order to ensure sustainability of the education system, we must clearly understand our strengths and weaknesses as stakeholders. This will ensure that we share knowledge and resources with others who do not have.

Every stakeholder has a role to play to ensure that more youth around the world get access to sustainable employment.

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