In an increasingly interconnected digital world, prioritising investments in education and skill development, especially for youth, is important. This is because data-driven insights are shaping the path for the future.
Recently, after a successful Data Science Hackathon, @iLabAfrica-Strathmore University joined forces with World Data Lab to host a thought-provoking discussion with the theme, ‘The Future of Consumer Class and Jobs.’
The event, held at Strathmore University, sought to shed light on the challenges and opportunities facing Africa’s youth, especially in Kenya. With the African youth population projected to increase significantly in the next few years, it becomes important to address the job and skills gap that exists.
Statistics from the World Data Lab revealed that over half of Kenya’s youth are employed in the informal sector.
This finding highlights the challenges facing youths who are seeking economic opportunities in the formal job market. While the informal sector provides some income, it often lacks benefits such as job security and opportunities for career growth.
Dr. John Olukuru, Head of Data Science and Analytics, addressed @iLabAfrica’s contributions towards resolving the job and skills gap in Kenya to meet market needs, saying, “We as @iLabAfrica identified the challenge in jobs and skills four years ago; hence, we launched the Smart Academy Program where second-year students can get job opportunities within a range of companies, which helps them grow in their career before completing university.”
The initiation of the Smart Academy Program not only bridges the gap between education and industry but also empowers young Kenyans to enter the job market with valuable skills and experiences.
Another remarkable statistic shared during the discussion was the projection that Africa’s youth population is set to expand by 18.5% over the next seven years, exceeding the world youth growth rate of 2.4 percent.
This stat shift presents both challenges and opportunities. From one point of view, there will be a need for access to quality education, skills training, and sustainable jobs. From another point of view, growth in the youth population can be a source of innovation.
In a globalized world, the relationship between the Austrian embassy and @iLabAfrica will play an important role in creating job opportunities for the youths in Austria, which will not only open doors for Kenyan youths but also strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between the two nations.
The discussion highlighted important issues facing Africa’s youth. With a growing young population and a significant portion working in the informal sector, closing the employment and skills gap is important. Initiatives like @iLabAfrica’s Smart Academy program demonstrate that such efforts make a major impact in educating young people for a rapidly evolving job market.
John Muinde, a participant in the Data Science Hackathon was given an opportunity to present his project. The project involved developing tools, models, and visualisations connected to datasets on youth employment. Additionally, he was awarded an internship at the World Data Lab.
Winning the Data Science Hackathon and subsequent internship at the World Data Lab demonstrated not just John’s technical ability but also his dedication to applying data science for social benefit. His project on youth employment in Kenya illustrates how data science can be a strong tool for tackling important global challenges.
This article was written by Wachira Kevin.
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