Youth Employment Conference (YEC) 2020

In partnership with various organizations, the Youth Agenda hosted the annual Youth Employment Conference (YEC) on the 19-20th November 2020 at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi. The conference’s theme was the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the youth and strategic recovery plans for the future. The two-day event hosted the youth, national leaders and change-makers through engaging forums in emerging opportunities: Blue Economy, Green Economy, Creative Economy and Digital economy.

The first day kicked off with an online panel hosted by NairoBit’s Sam Nyamwange highlighting our Executive Director Ms. Magdalene Wanjugu & Ms. Caroline Njuki of ILO. This panel discussed the state of digital economy in  Kenya and the opportunities for youth therein. This was followed by welcoming remarks from Peter Kwest, head of Youth Program at the School of Government. Various forums followed with crucial discussions of the day centring around the Creative and Digital economy. Speakers addressed common problems in Kenya’s educational sector that inhibit youth development. 

Today, an average of 60% of Kenya’s demographic is young people, making up a large workforce in the coming future. As the population continues to increase, employment further shrinks its capacity to absorb the eager youth into the job market. However, a wide gap exists in the Educational sector as systems do not teach the youth how to use education as a tool to solve grand challenges. Lucy Githaiga, Country director at Diakonia, stated that employees would never accommodate everyone, and it is high time that young people learned Entrepreneurship as a means to create new opportunities. George Awala, Director at VSO, explored the potential of the new generation. He encouraged the Youth to observe the impact of Globalisation and how the world has turned into a global village. The creative and digital economy has endless opportunities in E-commerce, Human augmentation and Social media. The speakers agreed that the country should adapt by preparing skill-based youth to create opportunities for themselves in the 21st century.

The International labour Organisations also shared their efforts to create systems that monitor unemployment statistics to produce up to date data that will facilitate reform. Inclusion of the marginalized population, such as the disabled, young mothers, and immigrants, was thoroughly discussed to create a thriving ecosystem that accommodates everyone. The engaging platforms allowed the youth to discuss the Nairobi County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) and how labour market information is key to guiding them on how to start businesses within value chains.

The green and blue economy had insightful sessions exploring the relationship between aspects such as sustainability and agribusiness success. It was interesting to hear about creative businesses in the Green and Circular economy that make products such as Briquettes, bamboo straws and specks made of wood. The conversations also highlighted the role of gender dynamics that affect the youth today. Fridah Monah, a Gender expert and founder of women with disabilities, encouraged people to shun away gender-based criticism instead of focusing more on performance-based reviews. Finally, the youth discussed the Building Bridges Initiatives (BBI) led by the honourable Raila Odinga’s representatives. The conference indicated that the future is hopeful with young people at the forefront of impact in various sectors in partnership with the Government and other stakeholders. Nairobits is thankful to have been part of the partners in the youth employment forum and to take part in youth-led matters with the vision of moulding leaders of the future to create opportunities and solve Africa’s challenges.

By Maureen Gichina