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Youth employment key, Otuoma says

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12- Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Paul Otuoma was in London for the Pan Commonwealth Conference and spoke on the importance of ensuring employment for Kenya\’s growing youth population.

With youth in Kenya forming 60 percent of the labour force and majority of them unemployed, Dr Otuoma said such circumstances in the early stages of a young person\’s career can harm job prospects for life.

"A generation without hope for a decent employment can be a problem for families, the country and society at large," he said.

Currently in Kenya, there are about 2.5 million youth looking for formal employment and the number is likely to rise to 3.5 million by the year 2012 if necessary and innovative job creation initiatives are not taken now, Dr Otuoma warned.

He further told the delegates that with a majority of youth having neither collateral property to secure bank loans to enable them to start businesses, nor competitive skills to compete in the ever elusive job market; they have pegged all their hopes upon the Government for solutions.

As a way of managing the problem, Dr Otuoma said, the Kenyan government has developed strategies to address the needs of the youth.

Some initiatives include capacity building and employment to equip youth to engage in productive activities, creating employment opportunities and providing them with necessary economic support.

Dr Otuoma also said the government supports initiatives that mould character through strengthening programmes that advance youth health and wellbeing as well as giving them a voice to articulate their issues in decision making.

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The two-day conference (May 9-10) focused on investing in youth employment through exploring opportunities for sustainable employment, primarily targeting representatives of High Commissions of the Commonwealth member countries among other organizations committed towards youth enterprise and employment.

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