Over 436 youths from socially and economically challenged backgrounds have gained career and life skills training in various institutions courtesy of Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA). This is part of KURA’s corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program code-named Uwezo Youth and targets youths from various Counties especially from marginalized Communities and those affected by projects in the urban set up. The first beneficiaries of this program are youths drawn from nine Counties namely; Marsabit, Tana River, Lamu, Wajir, Garissa, Baringo, and Nairobi.
The youth are sponsored to train and gain skills on various courses at Kenya Institute of Highways and Buildings Technology (KIHBT), Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS) and Railway Training Institute (RTI). KURA has been in liaison with the national and county government in selecting the beneficiaries. The program is partly financed by African Development Bank (AfDB) under Outer Ring Project as part of increasing their ability to gain better jobs or skills that can enable them undertake self-employment.
Some of the youths were hawkers along the Outer Ring Road and by acquiring these skills, they were able to be employed elsewhere or establish their own business.
This training has not only equipped the students on an academic level, but also enhanced exposure, innovation and experience as practical sessions have been incorporated in the course work. The students have expressed gratitude and are optimistic that this will act as a catapult and journey to better things and a bright future ahead.
With development of certain basic skills, the trained youth can assume the positions of role models to fellow youth in their hometowns whereby they can mentor, encourage and advice the young ones and fellow peers on skill development. This in turn elevates the status of the society and empowers the residents to being innovative and self-sufficient.
According to 22 years old Nasibo Bonaya Gufyou, a female youth from North Horr in Marsabit County, the training was an eye opener and completing a two months course as a plant Operator was a big achievement not only for her but also for the girls of Marsabit County.
‘I am very grateful that I got this chance and I have trained to use this machines always associated with men. Not a single female in Marsabit County has ever imagined it is possible and I have proved it as possible. I yearn to show them how it is done and encourage others to take the challenge,” she says.
Women too have been given equal opportunities in the course enrollment and undertaking thus changing the perception of equality and gender based bias in certain communities and regions. This has encouraged more women and young ladies to take interest in education and job opportunities.
According to Eng. Silas Kinoti, Acting Director General, many youths lack exposure and yet the country requires many of them to undertake projects in various fields.
‘If many institutions take interest in promoting youth skills empowerment, the country will be able to meet is expectations of Vision 2030. We take pride as KURA to target these Counties where youths have not ventured in these areas to enable them prepare for upcoming projects and to enable them benefit from county and National Government infrastructural projects,’ he says.