Basic Employability Skills Training Project


he immediate and emerging labour market in Kenya and the East African Region at large is experiencing basic level skills shortages in new economy sectors. Ironically, the country and the region experience a youth bulge, which, however, is characterised by high levels of unemployment.

CAP-Youth Empowerment Institute Kenya (YEI) is a non-government organization started in 2011 committed, to train youth out of school in job entry level skills.

Good Practice Approach

To address the problem of youth unemployment, a market-led basic skills training for youth has been initiated. CAP Youth Empowerment Institute (CAP-YEI) implements Basic Employability Skills Training (BEST) model through public-private partnerships for its sustainability and scalability. CAP-YEI also mobilizes and enrols targeted youth by involving grass root government officials, local CBOs, network of youth organizations, youth and community leaders, and religious gatherings. CAP-YEI skills training is guided by labour-force demand; the training is informed by periodic market scan research.

The Initiative places thrust on BEST for disadvantaged youth - with particular focus on women. It purposes to promote equitable quality learning and access among youth to promising labour-market oriented opportunities, and to savings and credit facilities.

CAP Youth Empowerment Institute (CAP-YEI) Kenya implements the Competency Based Education and Training (CBET) approach which is being spearheaded by the Kenyan government. The training approach is direct training where CAP-YEI has established two types of training centres: replication centres (where CAP-YEI is hosted by a vocational training centre); and demonstration centres which are standalone CAP-YEI centres. In both centres CAP-YEI implements the BEST Model.

Specific Activities:

The project, CAP-YEI Kenya, targets 18 to 30 year old urban and suburban youth, primarily the marginalised, including school drop outs, young women, unemployed, internally displaced youth and migrants. The project facilitates vulnerable Kenyan youth to successfully negotiate school-to-work transitions through supportive pathways to learning, connection to job markets and access to financial services and small business development.

To achieve this, CAP-YEI introduced and adopted a training model (BEST) to the suit the specific job-requirements. The Model espouses demand driven skills training that deliberately link skills-development to market opportunities.

Key Results
  • 26 training centres have been established across Kenya;

  • More than 20,000 youth in Kenya have been trained during the last 6 years, registering an average placement rate of 77per cent; and

  • 339 vocational trainers have been trained and more than 10,000 students have been reached indirectly.

Lessons Learnt (Success Factors & Challenges)

In the past there was a dearth of comprehensive modules of technical vocational skills development. The program has been able to address this by providing a competency based training that promotes not only knowledge and skills acquisition, but also fosters right attitude and mind-set among the trainees.

Cultural attitudes sometimes have been unsupportive of development trends; for example, in a community in Lamu, Kenya, there was a widely acceptable view that technical skills trainings should be provided only to young men and not women. Such perceptions are discussed and deconstructed during the life skills sessions where both genders are helped to realise the mutually reinforcing capabilities and value that both men and women contribute to development.

The linkage of the Initiative with the training framework of the Government of Kenya has been a key factor for adaptation, assimilation and replication of the approach. For example, Vocational Training Centres (VTC) instructors have been supported by the Government to mainstream the CAP-YEI training approach and methodology into their trainings.

Which elements/tools are most suitable for replication / scalability?

  • A responsive, market-based and demand driven approach to employability skills training is a practice that can be adapted to different contexts and up scaled. This approach can be mainstreamed into existing curricula and pedagogical methodologies of VTCs;

  • The linkage of such initiatives with the government-run training frameworks could be emulated to not only spur adaptation, assimilation, and replication, but also promote sustainability.

  • Comprehensive modules of technical vocational skills development, espousing competency based training that promotes knowledge and skills acquisition, and fosters right attitude and mind-set among the trainees can be developed.

  • Community-level dialogue sessions on the value of women and girl’s education – including skills development, can be replicated and up scaled in different contexts.;

  • Brokering partnerships between VTC-students and graduate with other service providers - such as small business development and financial service entities can be valuable in promoting self-employment among the TVET trainees.