The upgrade is aimed at supporting the many unemployed youth in the area with basic skills in agricultural development as a way of creating self-sufficiency.
The foundation chairman Catherine Kola says that they will invest Sh2 million in the centre for purchase of equipment, capacity building for the staff as well as market linkages for the centre.
Kola said that the investment is aimed at addressing challenges such as high unemployment, the changing demands of the job market and a lack of training facilities which the youths are confronted once they have finished school.
“The investment will also help the Kitui community to access the centre to learn best agricultural practices as well as lessons on converting their subsistent agriculture into an economically viable enterprise,” she said.
She said that the project will serve as a pilot on how existing vocational centres can be used to boost farming in rural areas in Kenya.
Kola said that for Kenya to become industrialised by 2020, it must strengthen a technical and vocational education and training system that has been eroded by low investment.
“With competition for jobs at an all-time high, alternative forms of training are needed in order for the youth to learn practical skills and enhance career development,” she added.
VSO Jitolee Executive Director Ben Ngutu said the project fits within the overall goal of the government of improving vocational education; training and enterprise development within Vocational Training Centres.
“It directly supports government of Kenya strategies and policies to enable young people, especially girls, access training and opportunities to improve their life through sustainable livelihoods,” Ngutu said.
Ngutu said that through their secure livelihoods programme, VSO Jitolee is committed work in agriculture as one of the platforms for youth and women economic advancement and to help accelerate the transformation of agricultural activities into viable businesses.
The centre will be keen to provide basic skills on up scaling of poultry initiatives which are practiced a lot by women in the area, setting up of water harvesting equipment and irrigation systems to support crop production and production of organic manure all this to help the youth develop skills in agricultural management increasing self-sufficiency among them.
Matinyani Vocational Centre has been in existence since 1980 and caters for over 200 students in Matinyani.
The centre provides technical skills in carpentry, Masonry, Food processing, cloth technology and hairdressing.
The project comes at a time when Kenya is fighting a skills shortage that could hinder the smooth implementation of Vision 2030, the country’s long-term economic blueprint that is founded on a strong human capital base.
The Kenyan government is already spending Sh4.8 billion in donor funding to strengthen vocational and technical training countrywide, and help boost the country’s skills base.