36,000 Graduates Turned Away From Uhuru's Youth Project

Job seekers queue for an interview in Nairobi in 2018

36,000 university and college graduates were turned away from the government's paid internships, a project launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017. 

Out of 42,132 applicants for the financial year June 2019/2020, only 2,260 interns were absorbed by Ministries, State Agencies and parastatals - according to the Public Service Commission's (PSC) annual report.  

Applicants were denied entry after the National Treasury initiated a three-year employment freeze to cut the wage bill that has taken a toll on the government's finances. 

The Treasury further warned government offices against employing more staff and interns after the wage bill was projected to rise to Ksh 830 billion from Ksh 795 billion.

President Uhuru Kenyatta address at Gusii Stadium, Kisii County on October 20, 2020.
President Uhuru Kenyatta address at Gusii Stadium, Kisii County on October 20, 2020.

"The program, however, managed to absorb only 13% of the applicants due to budgetary constraints," PSC clarified in a report presented in Parliament. 

56% of interns absorbed were male (3,114) and female were 44% (2,446). 144  interns were persons living with disability. 

In 2017, Kenyatta detailed that the program would boost his one million jobs a year agenda and uplifting of the youth. 

"The transformative internships would enable graduates to sharpen the skills they learnt in college as they prepare to either enter the world of employment or venture into business.

"This will also end the story of youth being denied jobs on account of lack of experience," Kenyatta stated.

Data presented by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in June 2020 revealed that over 700,000 youth were rendered jobless by the Covid-19 pandemic that broke out in Kenya on Friday, March 13.

Kenya's unemployment rate doubled to 10.4% in just three months, March to June 2020. At least 1.72 million workers lost their jobs when the government imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The government has since set up measures to curb unemployment through initiatives such as Generation Unlimited Kenya (GenU Kenya) launched by the Head of State on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. 

Generation Unlimited was established as a global multi-sector partnership to meet the urgent need for expanded education, training and employment opportunities for young people, aged between 10 and 24.

ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru added that the government wiould engage educational institutions and local companies to help bridge the unemployment gap through the Ajira Digital platform. The programme is targeting at least one million jobs for the youth who will earn a decent wage from the platform annually.

Moi University graduates celebrate after graduating in August 2019 in Eldoret