Youth Urged To Take Up Digital Jobs

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Kenya’s Information, Communications and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has asked the youth to take advantage of the various Government initiatives in the ICT to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

“My message to every young person in the country is to get on board the digital train. This train is ready to leave the station. Do not be left behind. As the Kiswahili name, Jitume, suggests, please, Take initiative. The opportunities in digital world are immense,” the CS said.

Mr Owalo spoke on Thursday in Kiambu County, central Kenya, where he launched two ICT centres at Thika Technical Institute and Kiambu Institute of Technology, respectively.

The ICT centres dubbed ‘Jitume Kazi Lab’ are a Government intervention that provides adequately equipped digital working spaces for students in technical and vocational institutions and host communities.

Mr Owalo said the Government had set up seventeen jitume labs across the country and challenged students at technical institutions to use the centres to earn income from digital jobs.

“Our experience with trainees at the Kabete National Polytechnic showed, in December last year, that some were already earning as much as US$ 2000 per month from digital jobs,” Mr Owalo revealed.

A typical Jitume Kazi Lab has a user capacity of 100 learners at a time. It is equipped to provide free high-speed internet connectivity, access to computer devices and digital skills needed to access online job opportunities.

The multi-stakeholder project is part of sustained Government efforts to bridge the country’s digital skills gap by partnering with technical, industrial, vocational and entrepreneurship training institutions.

On the role of the centres in entrenching entrepreneurship and innovation among Kenyan youth, CS Owalo said information and ICT tools provided at Jitume Kazi Labs would enable business start-ups and “trade in the global community”.

“As the Government expands the national superhighway by another 100,000km of fibre optic cable and provides 25,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots, we must simultaneously arm our people with the digital skills to use the infrastructure.

“It is in pursuit of digital skills for our people that the Government has come up with the Jitume laboratories. The primary objective for Jitume labs is to train a public workforce that spawns efficient and effective service delivery in different trades and crafts,” CS Owalo said.

He pointed out that the Jitume initiative was designed to equip technical and vocational training institutions nationwide with 23,000 virtual desktops that enable one million learners to access free entrepreneurship and ICT training.

Alongside the centres, Mr Owalo said his ministry had established the Ajira Digital initiative to provide free training and placement of beneficiaries into online jobs locally and internationally.
He said Ajira Digital had trained 73,000 people by December last year and had a current enrolment of 120,000 beneficiaries.

Also in the pipeline, Mr Owalo said his ministry was accelerating the Kenya Advanced Institute of Technology (KAIST) completion at Konza Technopolis to offer specialized ICT courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

The CS assured that the Government will continue sourcing for youth digital jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities, noting Kenya was fast becoming a destination of choice for business process outsourcing and related investments.

“The digital skills pillar in our masterplan also entails establishing digital village smart hubs and studios in each of the nation’s 1,450 electoral wards. The hubs are designed to support learning, innovation and entrepreneurship by offering free working spaces and Wi-Fi for online jobs by youth nationwide.

“The same is also expected to enable our people to access government services, engage in e-commerce and communicate with each other cost effectively. So far, my ministry has established and operationalized 240 smart village hubs, in collaboration with partners,” CS Owalo said.

The ICT minister said the Government had set up a one-year internship programme to mentor and equip fresh graduates.

“This digital talent programme provides a platform for structured training, coaching and mentorship. It promotes ICT innovation and the development of solutions among the trainees.

“Under this programme, 356 students graduated in November 2022. Another 400 interns recruited in December 2022 are currently undergoing training,” Mr Owalo concluded.

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