Holism and collaboration are concepts at the core of CAP Youth Empowerment Institute’s (CAP YEI) Basic Employability Skills Training (BEST) approach. The significant success over the past five years of this comprehensive nine-step model, which includes a wide range of market-relevant skills training as well as access to job and business opportunities, lays the groundwork for the project’s second phase launched in July 2016.
The success of the BEST approach to youth skills development and employment is due in large part to engagement with both private and public sectors. CAP YEI’s engagement with employers and businesses begins during the market-scan stage and continues through curriculum development, vocational and financial skills training, mentorships, job placements, monitoring and post-training follow-up. Working closely with employers and businesses ensures that the skills that CAP YEI trainees gain are market-relevant, and that they have opportunities to practice skills in real-life situations.
Evidence suggests that employers are looking for young people who communicate effectively with colleagues and customers, show commitment and confidence and are willing and eager to learn. These transferable skills are often as important as technical know-how. According to program research and evaluations, CAP YEI’s BEST approach has been effective because it provides youth with a good balance of the market-relevant technical skills — whether it be electrical installation, security services or floriculture — and employability skills needed to access the world of work. In fact, over 88 percent of the 8,900 young women and men who have graduated from the CAP YEI program in the first phase have made the transition to an internship, a job or small business, or furthered their training or education.
CAP YEI also collaborates with government to ensure more young Kenyans benefit from the holistic BEST model. By working with managers and facilitators at 46 vocational centres to strengthen their approach to recruiting and training vulnerable youth, CAP YEI was able to reach an additional 5,800 young women and men.
The BEST model was first developed in India by the CAP Foundation. To improve its relevance for the Kenyan context, where there is a particular lack of formal sector jobs, especially in rural areas, emphasis has been placed on supporting youth access to self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. Adapting training content and approaches to the local context, and helping youth access the transferable skills most useful for negotiating multiple, and sometimes unpredictable, livelihood options, is important to both CAP YEI and The MasterCard Foundation. We want young Africans to be ready for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs, as well as be job creators.
In partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, CAP YEI is now entering a second phase of its work. An additional 23,000 youth will benefit directly from the BEST model over the next five years. The majority will be better able to support themselves and their families, generate jobs, and train and mentor other youth, as they often want to do. In other words, there will be a multiplier effect. However, in the context of large-scale youth unemployment and underemployment in Kenya, it’s only a part of the solution.
In the second phase, CAP YEI will also deepen its existing relationships with government partners in order to support the operationalization of Kenya’s Competency-Based Education and Training (CBET) approach. The CBET framework is centred on students and responds to the needs of employers. Kenyan government bodies have noted that the BEST model responds well to its CBET framework, and demonstrates how CBET can work in practice. CAP YEI plans to facilitate 500 instructors and managers in 100 vocational training centres to gain the knowledge and skills needed to support improved learning and employment outcomes. Through this, an additional 39,000 young people will have access to improved skills development programs through the Kenyan TVET system.
With the new program now underway, CAP YEI will continue to maintain a keen focus on the key factors of success – collaboration with the private sector at every stage as well as a market-relevant skills package that balances technical and soft skills, and provides opportunities to practice them – to ensure the quality and intensity of support is retained as the program scales up. Through continued collaboration with the private and public sector CAP YEI will play an important role in an ever-improving Kenyan skills ecosystem.
The MasterCard Foundation’s Learn, Earn and Save initiative
The MasterCard Foundation first partnered with CAP Youth Empowerment Institute in 2011 as part of the Foundation’s Learn, Earn and Save program – established to test and support the development of holistic approaches for enabling economic opportunities for disadvantaged youth. In addition to CAP YEI, the Foundation also partnered with Swisscontact in Tanzania and Uganda, and Fundación Paraguaya in Tanzania, and engaged the University of Minnesota as a learning partner.
Each project supported youth to learn new technical, employability and entrepreneurship skills that are relevant to market needs. While CAP YEI does this through the BEST model, Swisscontact organizes youth into groups and facilitates training through local government officials and business people, and Fundación Paraguaya organizes school-based business clubs. The projects support them to earn, through links to job and business opportunities – including exposure visits, mentorship, placements, attachments, internships, and school-based enterprises. And they support them to start saving, through financial education and access to both informal and formal financial services.
Ndung’u Kahihu is Executive Director at CAP Youth Empowerment Institute and Karen Moore is Program Manager, Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation.