Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Innovation and Youth Joe Mucheru has urged Kenyan youth to take online jobs which he believes have increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mucheru stated that the opportunities for online workers in transcription, digital marketing, virtual assistance, data entry and management, and online writing have improved significantly, despite the fact that millions of employees worldwide have lost their livelihoods as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic .
In a speech read on his behalf by Maureen Mbaka, the Department’s Chief Administrative Secretary, at the opening of the Ajira Digital Club at Egerton University, the cabinet secretary said the government had facilitated access to digital opportunities in the country through the Ajira digital program.
“Working online is the way to go. The possibilities in the digital workspace far exceed the number of digital workers. I urge our youth to sign up for the Ajira Digital Program so that they can benefit and work online as an alternative occupation.
As the world grapples with socio-economic challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic, online workers are not affected as their jobs are safe to do business and provide services. It is high time Kenyan youth, who make up 75 percent of the population, embraced technological changes and innovations to promote remote work as an alternative employment, âsaid the CS.
He pointed out that the ministry, in cooperation with parliamentarians, has opened Ajira Youth Empowerment Centers in all constituencies, where young people can enroll and receive further training.
Mucheru also announced that his ministry is working with the judiciary to offer online transcription jobs to the teens.
âWe have piloted online transcription jobs in courts in Mombasa, Kisumu and Nairobi that employ over 700 young people. Every year we offer 400 young people the opportunity to do an internship with the government and the private sector to get into the online market
Many countries around the world have invested heavily in online work and are generating many billions of dollars in revenue for their respective economies, and that is our absolute goal as a country, âhe added.
The Ajira Empowerment Centers seek to provide skills to teens to help them secure temporary online jobs such as software development and transcription services in a rapidly evolving global gig economy.
The Ajira program involves hiring mentors to provide training and free internet connections and work space through constituency innovation centers, largely funded by the National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF).
Spurred on by higher Internet penetration, supported by the increasing use of smartphones, Kenya has set itself the goal of becoming a technology center for Africa and providing employment opportunities for its growing skilled and innovative youth. According to a progress report by the Ministry of ICT and Youth, around 320 innovation centers were set up between July 2017 and June 2020.
Mucheru said the rollout of Ajira’s digital clubs will be in every higher-level institution, reaching more youth and expanding the presence of the Ajira digital program across the country
âWith the Ajira program, we will instill the spirit and ability to innovate in our citizens and create a more technologically dynamic generation in the next decade or so. I think this is the way to a Kenyan âSilicon Valleyâ of the 21st century, âhe said.
For her part, Mbaka said the government is committed to establishing more Ajira Digital Clubs at universities and technical vocational training institutes (TVETS) across the country to encourage mentoring and collaborative learning in finding digital work.
The CAS confirmed that Ajira’s digital clubs should act as formal structures within the various higher education institutions to bring new members into Ajira’s digital ecosystem, where citizens have access to work preparation training, mentoring and visibility of job opportunities in the gig Economy received.
âOur goal is to equip more Kenyan youth with skills that enable them to earn money in digital and digitally supported jobs. We are excited to formalize and fully operate another digital club in Ajira to train, mentor and connect young people to various online jobs and enable them to earn declining wages, âsaid Mbaka.
She added, âEvery Ajira Digital Club in every institution has an Ajira Patron and Ajira Club Champions who are able to organize various club activities tailored to involve all students and give them opportunities to develop new skills learn and get started on digital work ”.
Egerton University’s incumbent Vice Chancellor Prof. Isaac Kibwage said the Ajira initiative was critical to Kenya’s drive to create many youth jobs, particularly from universities and TVETS.
Prof. Kibwage stated that the program, which targets youth in and out of formal education systems, is a broader strategy to create an environment for job creation and skills development and to foster an entrepreneurial culture among youth.
âOur goal was to bring our students and graduates closer to the possibilities of the digital workplace.
Egerton University’s Ajira Digital Club is run by students for students and will act as additional training, incubation and mentoring forums to help them gain access to digital and digitally supported employment opportunities, âemphasized Prof. Kibwage.
By Anne Mwale