Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Kenyan training program for young carpenters

What started as a joke by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon turned into a great training program for Kenyan youth.

During a visit to a Kenyan slum, Moon wondered why the young people were not working. It was explained to Moon that there were no jobs to be had. After the visit, a UN program was started to help the youths gain construction skills.

As writer Dann Okoth explains in this Standard story, the youths are not working on heavy machinery, but instead are making themselves more employable.

But the youth were not going to spend their money in purchasing huge earth-moving equipment or building materials.

Instead, they opted to use the money to hone their skills in construction on how best to offer professional service.

"Most of the youth were already involved in the industry as unskilled workers anyway," he says.

Sijenji adds Habitat engaged the youth in a training programme to produce cheap building blocks. The youths have since learned to produce the low-cost Stabilised Soil Blocks and soon, they would begin producing the highly popular and futurist Hydroform Interlocking Blocks.

"So far we have witnessed the successes of the programme as more youth have been trained in building and construction," he says.

According to the co-ordinator, 120 youths will be sent to Kenya Water Institute to train as plumbers and Don Bosco Catholic Church training facility to train as electricians.

In all, he says, 320 youth would have graduated by the end of the first phase of the programme.

"The youth will gain more from the Kibera slum upgrading project since they will be contracted as skilled rather than as unskilled labourers like they did before," say Sijenji.

Besides that, many are looking forward to forming their own companies and bid for jobs as building contractors.

"Our aim is to form our own companies that could competitively bid for such contracts on equal level with big companies," he says.

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