In an effort to address the pressing issue of youth unemployment in Kenya, the inaugural East African Employability Summit was held at the Catholic University of East Africa, alongside the Uongozi Career Awards 2023. The summit, graced by Bomet County Governor Prof. Hillary Barchok, brought together diverse stakeholders, aimed at stimulating solutions to upscale employability.

Among the stakeholders who attended the summit were Colin Sykes from the British High Commission, Philip Thigo of Thunderbird School of Global Management, Nominated Senator Hezena Lemaletian, Dr. Ekrah Ndungu, Chairperson of Kenya National School of Private Colleges (KENAPCO), Philip Pande, Executive Director of Corporate Career Academy (CCA), and representatives from various learning institutions, policymakers, and development partners.

In his address, Governor Barchok acknowledged the alarming rate of unemployment in Kenya, emphasizing the significant gap between the increasing number of graduates entering the job market annually and the actual employment opportunities available.

“The high rates of unemployment in our society are worrying, even as universities churn out thousands of graduates to the job market annually. As a matter of fact, a recent study by the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), published in today’s Daily Nation, reveals a mismatch between employers’ expectations and job seekers’ qualifications. The report shows a high demand for job seekers with a Bachelor’s degree and technical and vocational education qualifications in most careers,” he said.

Governor Barchok urged policymakers in learning institutions to make necessary amendments in their policies to ensure that the courses they offer are relevant to the dynamic job markets. He expressed optimism that the summit would provide an opportunity for all actors to leverage sustainable development goals, promoting quality education, innovation, entrepreneurship, and inclusive youth employment opportunities for economic growth.

Governor Barchok highlighted that Bomet County is committed to developing technical skills through ongoing internship and mentorship programs in 33 Vocational Training Centers across Bomet County, covering a range of skills from the production of county enforcement uniforms to hospital linens and Early Childhood Development (ECD) furniture.

Barchok disclosed that his administration has drafted a policy that will offer flexible, competency-based education and training (CBET) to meet demand-driven enrollment. This policy is a significant step toward providing relevant skills for industrial and economic development, equity, and employability while organizing the vocational and technical institution framework.

Barchok emphasized the need to promote skill-based education, encouraging stronger partnerships with industries to offer internships and practical experiences for trainees. He underscored the importance of integrating technology into education, advocating for policies that align with digitalization innovations.

Governor Barchok affirmed his administration’s commitment to equipping students not only with technical skills demanded by the job market but also with the resilience, creativity, and mental well-being necessary for sustained success. He reiterated the establishment of an ICT software factory in Mulot to tap into and nurture the skills of tech-savvy youth.

Governor Barchok extended an invitation to all youths to a youth conference scheduled to take place in Bomet next month. The conference will center around transformation through entrepreneurship.