One third of Kenya’s population, approximately 13 million individuals, is comprised of young people aged 18-34. Despite the country's recent rapid economic growth, the stark reality remains: many young Kenyans are still facing high unemployment rates, particularly in areas such as Nairobi and Mombasa. This alarming state can be attributed to a lack of skills and the pervasive poverty that makes acquiring these skills incredibly challenging. Even when these young people manage to acquire the necessary skills, they often find themselves at a crossroads, struggling to match their gained skills to employment or self-employment opportunities.

What is urgently needed are carefully designed and inclusive programmes and interventions to address these challenges. Providing accessible, relevant training programmes and creating clear pathways to employment can help bridge the gap. This is where the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) becomes crucial. RPL acknowledges that skills can be acquired through on-the-job training, informal apprenticeships, and home-based learning. These paths impart invaluable knowledge, skills, and experience, yet they often do not culminate in a formal certificate of competency.

RPL aims to certify individuals who have gained skills through these informal means. This formal recognition can significantly enhance their employment prospects and career advancement opportunities. Employers, too, stand to gain from RPL by identifying skills gaps within their organisations, finding appropriate training programmes, and reducing employee training time by minimising the duplication of learning.

MDF Training and Consultancy Eastern and Southern Africa (MDF-ESA), in partnership with the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), will be implementing a skills development project focused on RPL in ICT repair and maintenance and masonry trades. This initiative aims to bridge the gap between informal skill acquisition and formal certification, enhancing employment prospects for many in the said trades.

On June 14, 2024, a stakeholders' forum led by the project partners, MDF-ESA and NITA, raised awareness among government officials, private sector representatives, donor agencies, practitioners, formal and informal sector associations, and training providers about the project's objectives and goals.

Supported by financing from the African Union, AUDA-NEPAD, the European Union, GIZ, and KFW, this project will be implemented in Nairobi and Mombasa over the next 15 months. The project aims to certify 300 youths, aged 18-35, in masonry and ICT repair & maintenance over an 18-month period. Certification will be managed by NITA, initially targeting youths from Mombasa and Nairobi.

SIFA, a programme under the AU's AUDA-NEPAD initiative supported by the German government, funds training institutions to enhance skills and improve employability or entrepreneurship.