The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$150 million International Development Association (IDA)* program to support 280,000 Kenyan youth to increase their employment and earnings opportunities. The Project is expected to run for a five year period.
The beneficiaries of the new Youth Employment and Opportunities Project are persons aged between 18 and 29 years, who are without jobs and have experienced extended spells of unemployment, or are currently working in vulnerable jobs.
The Project is an effort to respond to the high numbers of new entrants to the workforce who are presently outpacing the capacity of the Kenyan economy to absorb them in productive employment. It is a unique project in that it better prepares young people for the labor market and at the same time, supports the creation of new and better jobs in the market.
“Young people are the lifeblood to drive forward Kenya’s economy. But in all our conversations with the youth, with Government, NGOs, and the private sector, one thing is clear: together we have to do more to create sufficient jobs and ensure that young people are adequately prepared to step into these jobs,” said Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. That’s exactly why we have approved this large investment as a vote of confidence in Kenya and its young people.”
The project focuses on four core areas: a) Improving youth employability by engaging training providers and private sector employers to offer training and work experience in order to address skills mismatch; b) Supporting self-employment by focusing on job creation initiatives and launch of new business start-ups, improving productivity and job creation potential of existing enterprises, and offering innovative approaches to help hard-to-serve youth; c) Improving labor market information by improving access to and the quality of labor market information, and d) Strengthening youth policy development and project management through capacity building support to the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.
Youth under 25 years account for the largest number of the unemployed and those least educated have poor employment prospects and a higher incidence of low-productivity, low-paying jobs.
“This project can help the employment and employment prospects of youth, beginning with the large numbers who have started their own business or are employed in informal sector enterprises,” said Cornelia M. Tesliuc, Senior Social Development Specialist and Task Team Leader.
The program is fully aligned with the World Bank Group’s Kenya Country Partnership Strategy (CPS). By targeting vulnerable youths, the project supports the World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.