Next Generation Kenya, reports fears of ‘lost generation’ as youth unemployment hits record low

 The number of young people searching for jobs is at an all-time high according to Next generation Kenya, A British Council project jointly funded with the UK Department for International Development.

The research, part of the Next Generation series, follows similar British Council Next Generation projects in Tanzania, South Africa, Pakistan and Nigeria and for the first time in Kenya.

 “According to the research, young Kenyans are not happy with the employment situation than the education system. Only 13 per cent of household survey respondents replied in the affirmative with 64 percent saying their expectation had had not been met. More young people are pessimistic than optimistic about the future of employment, based on these findings, We believe our research lends its voice to the youth and aims to harness the Governments Big Four Agenda,” said British Council’s, Country Director, Mr. Tony Reilly.

For a demographic dividend to be captured, a country needs its young people to be supporting dependants rather than relying on others for their income.  In Kenya, however the reverse is the case.  Sevety three per cent of 15 – 24 year olds rely on support from others for their livelihoods. Only 27 per cent rely on income from work.  Even among those who have left school (and are potentially looking for work) 60 per cent rely on support from others.  Youth unemployment is both higher than the sub-saharan average and unlike in the continent as a whole, has increased since 2000.

 “Another reason is the unfairness of the labour market.  Young people can see that there are opportunities 66 per cent agree that there is a wide range of employment opportunities in the country but they are unable to access them.  As a consequence, two-thirds of the respondents said they would like to migrate elsewhere in Africa in search of better job opportunities. A similar proportion would like to migrate beyond Africa’s borders’’, noted Mr. Reilly.

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According to the research, there is a disconnect between young people’s perception that jobs exist and their pessimism about their own employment prospects suggests there are blockages that prevent them from realising their career potential. Many believe the system is stacked against the youth and in favour of their elders. The unemployment rate among 15- 24 year olds is almost triple among older adults.  Sixty three per cent believe it was easier for their parents’ generation to have a good career.

 Despite this concerns, young Kenyans have a strong sense of pride in Kenya. With 91 per cent of those who responded saying they love their country and 86 per cent agree that the heritage and identity of the country is important to them.  The majority feel the country has made progress in recent decades with 62 per cent believing that their generation’s lives are better than those of their parents’ generation. Young Kenyans see nationality as their strongest source of identity, ahead of family, religion and ethnicity.

Most young Kenyans believe that while the quality of education is improving, it is not yet up to international standards. Educational quality is lacking in preparing pupils for the work place. Many of those who are not in work believe they lack the requisite education and skills to find jobs.  Large numbers are unable to perform basic job-seeking skills such as preparing a CV searching for employment opportunities or filling out a job application. Of those who are working, 62 per cent said that the education they had received did not match at the skills required in their jobs.

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Next Generation Kenya’s research reveals that, many young Kenyans feel that society denies them a voice and excludes them from playing an active role in community and political decision making. Forty – four per cent believe they are listened to. In the focus groups not a single young person felt that the youth had a voice. Young women and those who have disabilities or who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds feel their opinion is even less valued than those of their peers.

“The findings of this research point to a need for Kenyan youth to be heard, involving young people in the design and implementation of policies concerning them should be the first call to action, we believe Next Generation Kenya, provides a platform to activate this process and raise participation of youth in nation building while enabling them to tackle urgent social problems in the community. With the knowledge acquired from this project, the young people will be equipped to act in a way that secures their economic and social freedom for them and future generations’’ said Mr. Reilly.

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