Giving school dropouts employability training

By Irene Githinji
Monday, March 29th, 2021
MAIN: CAPYEI trainees take notes during a field trip. BELOW: The institute’s Executive Director Ndung’u Kahihu. Photo/PD/COURTESY
In summary

Irene Githinji @gitshee

For the last 10 years, it has been a relief for thousands of out of school youth from vulnerable backgrounds unable to continue with their studies, as they are now being trained on job entry level.

So far, at least 75,000 youths have benefitted from CAP Youth Empowerment Institute (CAPYEI), which uses Basic Employability Skills Training (BEST) model to train them for short courses, guided by labour forces around their areas of residence.

CAPYEI Executive Director Ndung’u Kahihu says the initiative covers learners, who dropped out of school or have sat for their national examinations, but cannot continue with their education for lack of finances. “We focus on young people in very poor circumstances to secure their livelihood.

If you go to our learning centres, you will see they have different challenges – some have dropped out of school over finances, others had trouble with the law and are seeking rehabilitation while others are from very remote areas and not able to access learning facilities,” explains Ndung’u.

To identify the most vulnerable cases for the programme, he says CAPYEI uses government officials at the grassroots level and youth organisation networks among other platforms.

They are then placed in CAPYEI’s 32 centres, some of which are housed in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions and are then trained on life skills, small business development and relevant labour market skills.

To qualify

While also checking conditions of vulnerability, Ndung’u says a beneficiary should not have been in school for the previous one year before enrollment, not been in employment or none of their family member has benefitted from the CAPYEI initiative.

Successful applicants are only required to pay Sh2,000 registration fees and the rest of the training, which takes about four months is free.

Though learners are trained for free, the institute spends about Sh150 million each year on learners, which translates to a unit cost of about Sh45,000 per student.

Much as they are housed in Tvet institutions, he says that they also lease spaces and offer short course training, that are demand led and subsequently assist them in securing jobs once they are done.

Skill training is also informed by labour force in areas where the 32 centres are situated. “Remember these are vulnerable young people and offering them skills is not enough.

We offer them a package, which means all the way from enrollment, we do not always wait for them to come to us, we go to them and now have an established network to identify the needy,” he states.

Once enrolled, they are taken through a technical course, a mandatory and integrated life skill course, financial literacy course as well as small basic business set up skills.

For those who choose to start their own small businesses, which are increasing by the day, the institute has created an additional skill training programme to mentor them in their new venture.

“We are now building a suit of support only for business because we want to encourage more of our young people to try business and we know it is hard to succeed in business than as an employee,” he says.

CAPYEI has also created an enrollment portal on their website, where those interested can go through a selection process and if they qualify they are chosen and assigned a slot.

The institution uses at least 14 TVET accredited curriculum in its training, which covers courses, such as security, hospitality, sales, hair and beauty, air conditioning maintenance, among other technical aspects.

The curriculum was initially guided by market assessments, but now with the government requirement for accreditation, CAPYEI has worked to get the ones they had also authorised.

Digital learning platform

The programme enrolls every three months about 2,000 learners across the country, which translates to about 6,000 young people annually.

At this particular moment, there are about 1,700 trainings, which is fewer than usual because the institutions are also recovering from Covid-19 and have to observe distancing aspects.

Long closure of the institution due to the pandemic last year, also saw conceptualisation of a digital platform, known as Learning Management System (LMS), an interactive program that is both web and mobile based with online and offline functionalities.

The platform, which was rolled out in partnership with MasterCard Foundation in August last year allows fresh and ongoing learners to enroll for new courses, uploading course content and materials alongside having access to all vocational training centres.

With LMS in place, at least 1,200 were enrolled in this system and another 2,000 completed their entire course via this model, though the practical aspect was not as good as it normally should

About 3,000 people were graduated digitally and data collected thus far from this lot shows that there was no negative effect of this form of training.

According to Ndung’u, the CAPYEI uptake has been positive given the number of learners they have trained.

“The success rate is about 75 per cent with regards to those who have been able to secure jobs, at least before Covid-19,” he says.

He calls on learners to aspire to study a technical course, even as they pursue their degrees in universities.

“If you qualify to study a course in the university, do that, but also get time for a course that allows you to use your hands, it opens many doors,” he advises.