Generation Unlimited in Kenya

NAIROBI, 5 August 2020 – A visionary new multi-sector partnership designed to see more than 30 million young Kenyans in education, training or employment by 2030 has been officially launched by the Government, with the support of the United Nations and other partners. 

Generation Unlimited (GenU) is part of a global initiative designed to help equip young people between the ages of ten and 24 – who make up more than three in five (63 per cent) of Kenya’s population – with the skills they need to thrive in society and the world of work. 

“When we invest in our young people, our potential for progress is unlimited, and this is more important now than ever,” said His Excellency the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. “By offering all young people opportunity, we will boost our economy, increase the wellbeing of families across the country, and help meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”   

“Around the world, too many young people are out of school – and those who are in school find a mismatch between what they are learning and the job market,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Under COVID-19, young people are facing yet another barrier, as businesses close, jobs are lost, and economies suffer. GenU is about joining forces to help them gain the education, marketable skills and training they need to prepare for the world of work – during and beyond the pandemic.”

The GenU programme aims to help young people successfully transition between primary and secondary school and then on to University. It also focuses on nurturing entrepreneurship and promoting equitable access to employment opportunities, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.    

Currently around half of 14 to 17-year-olds in Kenya do not finish secondary school, while only 7.7 per cent progress to University. In 2019, graduates from universities and vocational and technical colleges faced an unemployment rate of twice the national average (18.34 per cent), suggesting a mismatch between their skills and the needs of the job market. According to the latest data, 85 per cent of unemployed people in Kenya are younger than 35.  

GenU focuses on scalable programmes in Kenya, including:

  • The AJIRA Digital Programme set up by the Government and partners in 2017, to help introduce young people to digital work opportunities. So far, this has trained over 50,000 young people, 120,000 young people are registered on the portal and 40 Ajira digital clubs have been established in universities and technical colleges.  
  • Yoma – the Youth Agency Market Place – which brings together the global demand for advancing the SDGs and the ability of young people to do so within their community. The platform provides a place for youth participants to build their futures by actively engaging in social impact challenges and/or tasks, online upskilling courses, and links into the job market all through a seamless virtual CV.
  • The Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunity Project (KYEOP) run by the Government and the World Bank, in partnership with the private sector, to help 280,000 young adults who are either unemployed or in precarious employment gain job, life and entrepreneurship skills. 80 per cent of the first cohort of 3,000 young people are now either employed or self-employed. 
  • KCB 2jiajiri established by the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation. This combines training and financing to help support small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship.   
  • Upgrading youth empowerment centres to nurture young talent by providing access to online opportunities and skills training.

“The Government is committed to expanding young people’s opportunities, including through digital skills and training opportunities,” says Hon. Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Youth and Innovation and member of the global Executive Committee of GenU. “We want to see every young Kenyan achieve their potential and contribute to the development of our nation.”

Kenya’s GenU secretariat is hosted at the Executive Office of the President, who was endorsed as global Champion of the Young People’s Agenda at the UN General Assembly in 2018.  

The Kenya programme also plays a priority role in the worldwide GenU initiative run by UNICEF, the World Bank, the Netherlands, Ireland, Dubai Cares, Unilever and others. Globally over 60 prominent leaders, including Heads of State and CEOs, have joined young grassroots leaders in a unique partnership between the private sector, government, multilateral organisations, civil society and young people.  

Kenya’s GenU programme will forge new opportunities by working with a wide range of partners – from young people themselves, to development organisations to international finance institutions.  

“The entire United Nations system in Kenya is united in its efforts to make Kenya a poster child of success and deliver as one to advance GenU Kenya,” says the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee. “We are committed to help drive forward this ambitious programme to catalyse change for young people, their families and their communities, across the country.”