, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga wants the government to prioritise job creation for the youth in the implementation of Agenda Four of the Peace Accord.
He said on Thursday that the ever increasing numbers of unemployed youth posed the greatest risk to peace and tranquillity in the country citing the post election period when the idle lot engaged in acts of lawlessness and violence due to despondency.
“The unemployment we face in Kenya is nothing but a time bomb. It has been correctly stated that despondency played a big role in fuelling the violence that swept our land during the political crisis last year,” he said.
"The government had no option but to move with speed to implement the recommendations of Agenda Item Four, which proposed the tackling of massive of unemployment among the youth."
Mr Odinga told an international conference on “Youth Employability and Opportunity" in Nairobi that more than 750,000 school leavers and drop outs flood the already saturated job market annually and the pile up is surging.
“Statistics show that unemployment has been rising steadily in Kenya since 1963 when we attained independence. For instance unemployment nearly trebled from 6.7 percent in 1978 to 19.9 in 2006," he revealed.
He however announced that the government had embarked on employment creation programmes, which were tailored to transform the attitude of the youth to appreciate any gainful means of livelihood, rather than over emphasise on white collar jobs.
The Premier said that the educated but unemployed youth tended “to fix their minds on white collar jobs” hence the need for change of perception by wooing the youth to embrace self-employment.
He said the inception of the Youth Affairs Ministry was part of the deliberate effort to promote youth leadership and attitude training programmes to shift their focus and exploit available resources towards national development.
Mr Odinga said the establishment of the Youth Enterprise Funds and Kazi Kwa Vijana programme was just but some of the initiatives the government initiated to empower the youth, but regretted that the challenge ahead was too enormous.
The Premier, who presided over the opening session of the two days Youth Forum, however challenged participants to deliberate on whether the education system offered prepares and equips the learners with skills to undertake the available jobs.
Mr Odinga decried that many employers have expressed concern over the curriculum used in the education system, claiming that graduates from local institutions lacked the prerequisite skills for the job market.
The seminar, which was graced by Youth and Sports Minister Hellen Sambili was organised by the International Youth Foundation (IYF), co sponsored by the World Bank and USAID.
The organisation was represented by top officials including IYF president and Chief Executive William Reese, WB Country Director Johannes Zutt and USAID mission director Erna Kerst among other participants from at least 20 countries.