The Kenya Youth Empowerment Project (KYEP) – Kenya

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Context: In Kenya, the youth who fall between 15-35 years form about 35 per cent of the country’s population. It is estimated that about 155,000 youths join the labour market annually after completing training in Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET), or the University. Data on employment dynamics of the youth also show that the youth with tertiary education mostly engage in school up to age 27 years. Most of these youth are not found in formal and informal employment or active job search until the age of 20 years. Representation of the youth with tertiary education in the formal sector mainly starts at the age of 21 years and this increases with age until they reach the cut-off age of 35 years. This means that staying longer in school delays entry into the market, hence easing pressure on the market. Also, a relatively larger proportion of the youth with tertiary education are in formal sector employment as compared to other activities such as informal sector employment, job search, home-maker or other economically inactive chores. This emphasizes the importance of TVET, inclusive of internship and apprenticeship programmes in enhancing the employment chances of the youth.

Implementation of programme/ initiative: The Kenya Youth Empowerment Project (KYEP) was launched by the Kenya Government in 2010 with funding support from the World Bank. The project cost was US$ 15.62 million. The KYEP was implemented as a pilot project in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu between 2011 and 2016. It was implemented through a public private partnership involving the government and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA). It was aimed at improving youth employability and integration into the work environment through training and internships. The target was to avail training and internship opportunities for at least 11,000 youth with at least 50 per cent of the interns securing employment, starting their own businesses or furthering their education within six months after the internship. It targeted the youth aged 15-29 years with a minimum of eight years schooling and have been out of school or college for at least one year. The youth were taken through two weeks of life skills training, 3-5 weeks of core business training, 5 weeks of sector specific, and workplace internships for 12 weeks. The internship component was divided into eight internship cycles of six months each during which time three months are spent at the workplace while the other three months are spent in training with an identified technical training provider. The interns were placed in the Kenya Vision 2030 growth sectors such as energy, finance, tourism, information and communication technology, manufacturing and the micro and small enterprises (MSEs). The youth that are placed in the formal sector go through life skills training, core business skills training and sector specific training while those in the MSEs go through entrepreneurship skills training. Youth aged between 15 and 17 years were eligible for internships in the MSEs sector. Each youth on internship was given a monthly stipend of about US$ 60. Employers were also provided with incentives to accept interns and teach the youth job relevant skills, encourage them to create jobs and retain those who successfully completed the programme.

Main challenges: One of the main challenges encountered in implementing the project was difficulties in procurement of trainers in terms of bureaucracies in government procurement. There was also conflict between conventional understanding and expectations, and what the project was offering. Difficulties arose in managing the expectations of the youth and employers, and also the lack of requisite skills sought by industry due to mismatch between the skills imparted by the TVETs and those required by the industry. Much of the skills mismatch was attributed to the fact that the TVET institutions use outdated technology in training while the industry has moved and uses more modern technology and equipment in their operations.

Results achieved: A total of 20,384 (47% female) youth received training while 13,289 (49% female) youth were successfully placed in internships. This was against the target of 15,000 and 10,000 youths earmarked for training and internships, respectively by 2016. The project was also successful in placing youth in paid jobs, increasing the probability of gaining wage employment to about 0.78 and 0.70 per cent in Nairobi and Mombasa, respectively. In this respect, an average of 75 per cent of the interns who participated in the project ended up securing employment (wage or self) while approximately 10 per cent went for further skills development. An impact assessment of the project revealed that 80 per cent of the youth who benefitted from the intervention reported that they were in paid work 14 months after completion of internship compared with 69 per cent in the control group, representing an 11 per cent point gain.  The gain increased to 14.2 per cent for those completing the full training program.  Among young women there was a 6.7 per cent increase in employment for those who were offered internships and an 8.7 per cent increase for those who completed the programme. The project contributed to an increase of 15 per cent in employment of male participants. In terms of earnings, the monthly wages of project beneficiaries increased to US$ 67.7 for males and US$ 96.2 for females or by US$50 and US$ 75 for males and females, respectively. The wages of male youth that had been placed on internship increased by about US$ 51.2 after graduation, corresponding to 26 per cent of wage earnings of the control group males. Further, the monthly earnings from wage employment increased by about US$ 58 for youths who were originally assigned to the project, US$ 90 for those who were placed on internship and US$ 114.2 for those who completed internship. This is compared to an average of US$ 99.4 for control group youths and is equivalent to 90 per cent increase in earnings. The project also increased the probability of a participant’s opening a bank account and accumulating savings, especially for females. The project also encouraged the youth to participate in either certified skills training or internship.

Moving Forward: The future priorities for KYEP should be for the government and the private sector to expand the coverage of the project to the whole country. Also, the mentorship component of the project should be strengthened by assisting the youth to identify the mentors, and promoting linkages with funding agencies and financial institutions.

Replicability: The main strengths of the project emanated from involvement of the private sector in youth employment interventions. Also, the project design was evidence based. It provided adequate time for pre-project activities with adequate lead time between project phases. Integration of robust monitoring systems for capturing project information, elaborate and focused communication strategy and planning are some of the key lessons for replication.


Honorati, M. (2015). “The Impact of Private Sector Internship and Training on Urban Youth in Kenya”, WPS 7404, Social Protection and Labor Global Practice Group: World Bank.

Project Details

Date: July 24, 2017

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