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Making youths expert mechanics.

Nearly every major urban centre has a motor garage or some sort of vehicle repair yard. In most of these places however are found unqualified artisans masked as mechanics. The majority only have skills acquired from serving as spanner boys. They lack professional know-how and employ rudimentary methods, which result in costly damage to vehicles.

The majority of idle and unemployed youth are found in the informal sector, to which these garages belong. The Kenya Economic Survey Report 2017 indicates that the informal sector is the largest employer for the manufacturing sector, growing by 6.5 per cent in 2016 to 2.7 million employees. The sector is characterised by underemployment and low quality jobs, increasing vulnerability to poverty. In Kenya, 17 per cent of the labour force is employed in the formal sector while the remaining 83 per cent are in the informal sector.

There are myriad opportunities in the informal sector whose rapid growth in the last decade makes it a frontier of economic success for the youth. The small-scale garage sector has recorded tremendous growth, with between 3,000 - 9,000 vehicles imported monthly. The Kenya Revenue Authority predicts there will be more than five million vehicles on Kenyan roads by 2030. This means more manpower to address repair needs.

Moreover, several global automotive manufacturers have recently committed to increase production thanks to new fiscal incentives by the government. These developments present the sector with the impetus to formalise and organise its operations.

Kilemi Mwiria, in Youth Unemployment in Kenya: A Ticking Time Bomb, 2016, established that there's a huge demand for trained mechanics by companies such as Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, especially if they have some dealership experience. He opines that this category could receive short-term training in partnership with dealership companies operating in Kenya.

Because many of those available for overseas jobs have little if any formal training there is also need to impart minimum formal educational skills in them. Apart from supporting curriculum development and standardisation of the courses offered, transnational corporations could sponsor students for internship during and after the formal training. The graduates are good candidates for employment in these corporates.

Further, and to address the skills gap, Kenya could adopt a feasible and legislated approach to skill development that covers preliminary vocational education and training, further vocational education and training, careers, employability, occupational competence and identity in collaboration with the business sector.

The KCB Foundation, through the 2jiajiri programme, has forged partnerships that address skills and business capital gaps to enable the youth to effectively engage in sustainable automotive microenterprises. The KCB Foundation, Toyota Kenya Foundation Registered Trustees and Toyota Kenya Ltd last year signed a partnership that will see automotive engineering graduates certified to own Toyota Service centres. The partnership will enhance skills development and business start-ups for youth in automotive engineering. Young people will acquire automotive and business skills that will enable them to start their own businesses along the automotive engineering value chain.

Top students of the KCB Foundation's 2jiajiri automotive class will attend automotive engineering classes for a further 12 months at the Toyota Academy under the Toyota Service Technician of 21st Century programme.

Under the partnership, the KCB Foundation is pooling resources in provision of scholarships to youth in auto mechanics to instil skills and upskill them to appropriate levels to compete for the TST21 certificate. The TKFRT is upskilling the trainees for one year, starting with 12 who were the crAA"me de la crAA"me of the inaugural class of 2016. Upon satisfactory completion, they will be certified as TST21 graduates recognised by Toyota Kenya Ltd.

Youth who benefit from the programme will be certified to set up garages as Toyota Kenya Ltd Appointed Service Centre, provided they meet the set criteria. They will then be legible for seed capital from the KCB Foundation under the 2Jiajiri loan to set up a TKASC, which will consist of a car wash, a maintenance bay and a spare parts unit, thus creating several jobs for their peers.

One service centre can create about 300 jobs. Out of the 12,500 beneficiaries of the 2jiajiri programme, more than 500 youth have received automotive training. Exploring such partnerships will contribute to a generation of professionals for Kenya's fledgling automotive industry and provide surplus human capital for export to regional and global labour markets.
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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Dec 18, 2017
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