More than 2,000 youths are set to benefit with requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable them to undertake online work and join the next big frontier which is the digital space labour force.

This comes after the launch of the National Online Employment Skills Development Programme by Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, State Department for Labour and Skills Development, in collaboration with the Ajira Digital program driven by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Speaking during the virtual launch of the programme, Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection, Hon. Florence Bore said that the National Online Skills Development Programme offers a comprehensive range of initiatives to support youths across the country at every stage of their career development journey.

“We are thrilled to introduce the National Online Employment Skills Development Programme, which represents a significant milestone in our collective efforts to build a highly skilled and future-ready workforce. By providing individuals with the tools, training, and opportunities they need to succeed, we are empowering them to shape their own futures and contribute meaningfully to the economic growth of our nation. The National Online Employment Skills Development programme is informed by the national development agenda envisaged in the Constitution of Kenya, Kenya Vision 2030, and the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA),” she said.

She added that, “Over the last decade, the gig economy has grown, transforming the labour market towards more accessible, competitive, and consistent job opportunities. Hence, the gig economy
has the potential to reduce unemployment, which disproportionately affects youth.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (2021), the unemployment rate is 6.6 percent. The age groups of 20–24 and 25–29 continued to record the highest proportion of unemployment, respectively. In regard to the long-term unemployment rate, which was 3.9 percent, youth aged
20–24 still have the highest rate of long-term unemployment at 13.5 percent.”

Bore urged the young people to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the programme hoping it will inspire many to join the online gig economy as gig workers or freelancers. There is need to exploit information technology to pursue the economic opportunities in the gig economy, specifically online work.

Principal Secretary State Department for ICT and the Digital Economy, Eng. John Tanui, in his speech presented by Madam Priscilla Maina, Assistant Director State Department of Digital Economy, said the Ajira Digital Program instituted in 2016 is at the forefront of ensuring one million young people, 70 percent of whom are young women, access digital and digitally enabled jobs annually in order to position Kenya as a labour destination for multinational companies and a global freelancing hub.

“Today there are over 400 Ajira Youth Empowerment Centers across the country where young people can access free computers, internet, and working space to work and earn online. Also, there
are over 114 Ajira Clubs institutionalized in universities and TVETs, equipping our young people in higher learning institutions with digital skills. So far, we have trained and mentored over 321,000 young people on the Ajira Digital Curriculum, 33 percent of whom are already working online. Furthermore, in 2021, the Ajira Digital program partnered with Amazon Web Services to introduce the AWS re/Start program, which offers free 12-week Cloud computing training and certification. Since the inception of the program, over 600 young people have been enrolled, and
over 400 have successfully graduated with the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certificate; 53 percent of whom are working locally and globally.”

Joyce Kimani, an Ajira Digital Program beneficiary said online work has played a great role in her life as it allows for convenience and flexibility to earn a dignified income and urged young people to share opportunities amongst themselves to access work and earn in the digital space.

Speaking on the same, Mr. Benaiah Wepundi, an Ajira Digital Program beneficiary and a student at the Catholic University stated that he has grown from an online freelancer tom a digital entrepreneur. He challenged the young people to take advantage of the available opportunities, establish careers and improve their livelihoods.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, in close collaboration with the Ajira Digital Program under the Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy, KEPSA, eMobilis Technology Training Institute, the Mastercard Foundation, and Konza Technopolis, will ensure the success and
widespread reach of the National Online Employment Skills Development Programme across the country. This collaborative approach will leverage the strengths and expertise of various
stakeholders, leading to a more comprehensive and impactful solution.

According to the 2022 Tifa survey commissioned by the Ajira Digital Program, there are over 1.9 million people working online today in Kenya. Over 1,576 young people have acquired jobs from the pilot e-government program through the Judiciary, and over 110,476 young people have been linked to work in the private sector.

The government is also in the process of launching Jitume Digital Labs countrywide with over 50 labs launched so far to help conquer the digital space. The Jitume programme aims to equip 1 million leaners with market-ready business and ICT related courses for free courtesy of the Ministry of Information, Communication and then Digital Economy.

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