Study calls for post-secondary education skills to more women

Sironga Girls High School

Sironga Girls High School students in their computer laboratory. Apprenticeship, internship and mentorship boost the employment of young women.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A new survey has shown that programmes geared towards supporting women in post-secondary education training give them a chance to break free from poverty and tap into fresh job opportunities.

A report by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), titled “Implementing the Kenya Women Economic Empowerment Community of Practice”, identifies the initiatives that enable women to grab the opportunities coming their way.

They range from providing childcare to growing skillset.

Three initiatives stand out. The first is by Kidogo, a non-governmental organisation involved in promoting quality early childhood care and education.

The organisation carried out a pilot study in Kisumu and found that providing childcare at vocational training centres helps improve young mothers’ enrolment and performance. It also reduces absenteeism and dropout rates.

Targeting young mothers aged 18 to 25 with children who were between seven weeks and three-years-old, the 2021 study set out to find ways of increasing the enrolment and retention of young mothers in the centres.

“Having young women spend more time in training means you end up with a better equipped and skilled human resource,” said Dr Erick Yegon, a senior associate director at ICRW.

With young mothers spending uninterrupted time in class, they are able to acquire skills that help them get decent jobs or start high-value businesses.

The second is Employment for Development. This is championed by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the government with the support of GIZ.

It seeks to increase the uptake of internships by young women and men – some leading to permanent or long-term contracts.

This intervention seeks to address the low transition rate of female graduates into jobs in non-traditional sectors like manufacturing.

Young Kenyans going through the programme gain hands-on experience and industry competencies that prepare them better for the labour market.

The third initiative is based on an ongoing non-experimental study under the Kenyatta University Women Economic Empowerment Hub.

It seeks to show that apprenticeship, internship and mentorship boost employment of young women.

It is doing this by assessing the effect of the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities project (KYEOP) on the employment of young women.

KYEOP is a government project through the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority and Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

It is supported by the World Bank in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Kwale counties.

The importance of examining barriers to women’s advancement in the labour market became more critical with the Covid-19 pandemic which plunged millions into poverty after many lost their jobs or dropped out of school.

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