Kenya is an economy on the rise with a youthful population. While the country has gained Middle Income status, unemployment is still a concern with 1 in 2 university students out of full time employment. In addition to limited employment opportunities, Kenyan youth find that they lack the adequate skills/experience to secure full time employment and upskilling is crucial for success. With employers regularly lamenting in the lack of soft skills in the youth entering the job market, the need for workplace training is higher than ever before.
Yusudi, an organisation that provides holistic, creative education to youth in Kenya has a built a programme called Jijali that allows participants to learn skills specific to their needs. Recognising that each person has specific strengths and weaknesses that traditional education does not cater to, Jijali offers individual learning paths for participants 18 - 35 years old to ensure they can stand out in today’s dynamic market.
The Jijali curriculum offers two online modules: Work Readiness and Entrepreneurship. Career Start targets individuals aged 18 - 25 with the minimum requirement being a high school education. This module hones employability skills such as fine tuning job applications, interview preparation, securing concrete job offers and growth within an organisation. In the Kenyan context, employers often complain about the life skills of young applicants and the work readiness module aims to address these issues.
The Entrepreneurship module equips learners with the tools and information to critically assess their businesses or business concepts and refine them. Participants who have started businesses can identify new processes to improve outcomes and those who have a viable concept can develop it into a fully fledged business.
The overall aim of Jijali is to improve the economic well-being of learners.
Participant profiles plus aspirations
Jijali participants are from a variety of fields, backgrounds and ages but they are all capable and motivated to enhance their economic status.
One learner, Alex Muchiri, a 24 year old IT specialist, joined Jijali to hone his job seeking skills. ‘I wanted to learn how to streamline my job hunt, prepare for job interviews and write a great CV.’ He went on to explain, ‘I have really seen the fruits of the training as I am currently a shortlisted candidate for a company that conducted a mass recruitment in my field. During the interview phase, I took pride in how I expressed myself and my personal value proposition which is something I struggled with prior to the Jijali program.’
Another young professional starting out in finance was Steve Onkeo, who enrolled in the Career Start module. He knew the career he wanted but needed further direction in getting there. ‘Prior to the course, I did not know how to tailor my CV to different positions. I loved the workshops provided as they were interactive and engaging. I really began to enjoy self learning.’
The experiences Steve and Alex had is exactly what the team at Yusudi aimed to give participants. An empowered outlook that encourages young people to go for the opportunities available.
On the entrepreneurship side, participants gained practical skills that they could apply to their businesses.
Gloria Mbilia a 30 year old who recently started a business wanted to sharpen her entrepreneurial skills. ‘Its been really difficult to get my business off the ground and through the practical training I learnt how to improve processes, market my product and devise budgets. My mentor was fantastic and really supported me throughout.’
Word spread about Jijali and Brian Musau a 20 year old with a poultry farm was referred to the program by a friend. ‘I worried about sustaining my business but through Jijali I began to see its long term feasibility. Learning about human centred design was my favourite part of the course and my perspective changed significantly.’
Another participant also commented on learning to rethink the design aspects of a product. They realised that what a client wants and what an entrepreneur designs may not be the same thing and there is a need to align a solution with the client’s vision.
Fundamental learnings from Jijali as an educational tool.
The strength of Jijali comes from its intricate design that focuses on an individual’s strengths as well as their goals. A participant’s success was measured by the accomplishment of their goals rather than the completion of the courses. Both the Career Start and Entrepreneurship modules had online courses, in person workshops and a mentorship program.
Jijali was built to empower participants and improve their economic status. In addition to the testimonials, data from the program demonstrates a distinct positive impact in the lives of learners. There has been a 20% increase in the number of participants earning more than 20,000 KSh per month from 14% at the start of the program to 34%. Furthermore, responses to a post program survey showed a leap from 3% to 15% in participants earning over 30,000 KSh per month. With Jijali, the Yusudi team have struck the right chord in upskilling youth. The entrepreneurship track was particularly successful with 73% of the entrepreneurs crediting Jijali as the reason behind new found success in business.
Additionally, the program revealed learning patterns and program customisation enabled by the development of Learner Profiles through analysis by the Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics. Data gathered demonstrated that most people were visual and active learners despite individual variations. Inclusion of visual and verbal content therefore increased chances of positive outcomes.
Data collected also revealed two subset groups; intrinsically and extrinsically motivated participants. 80% of the cohort was intrinsically motivated to improve their careers and educational aspirations. The other 20% were stimulated by external factors such as grades, awards and diplomas. This insight suggests that psychological coaching in addition to the online courses could foster motivation and confidence in the latter group.
As of December 2019, the Jijali team is gearing up for the next phase of the program which will take in 3,000 participants. The course will include online content, field tasks and mentorship with funding from the Blue Haven Initiative.
Click here to sign up for Jijali.