By Shadrack Nyakoe
Plan International, Hyundai Motor – Korea and Salvador Caetano-Kenya have partnered to sponsor 120 young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue a three-year advanced automotive engineering course at Hyundai Dream Centre situated in the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), Athi River. The automotive training and educational facility seeks to encourage more women and girls to join the automotive field.
The beneficiaries, who hail from part of Kenya’s marginalized communities namely Turkana, Kwale, and Kajiado among others, are between the ages of 18-35 set to study a training curriculum in motor vehicle auto-electrics, after which they will go through an extensive internship program with Hyundai Motor Company improving their employability skills. The vocational course is aimed at supporting their education which includes both technical and non-technical skills.
The official inauguration of the state of the art Hyundai Dream Centre was presided over by Korean Ambassador to Kenya H.E Choi Yeonghan. Also in attendance were Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Hon. Simon Chelugui and Plan International Country Director Kate Maina-Vorley among other dignitaries.
Choi Yeonghan hailed the bilateral relations with the Government of Kenya in providing platforms that gives needy young women and men a social-economic opportunity to acquire and hone their skills.
“Kenya and Korea share some similar historical background. In Korea, Hyundai Motors play a big role in building the country’s economic growth. Today, it is such a great honor to be part of this great initiative that seeks to uplift the livelihoods of young men and women in one of the most equipped automotive training and educational facility in Kenya- the Hyundai Dream Centre,” said Choi Yeonghan.
Cabinet Secretary of Labour Simon Chelugui noted that the automotive sector supports many other sectors of the economy, hence creating a multiplier effect in many economies.
“I foresee a bright future in our country where trainees from this centre will be one of the most sought-after skilled professionals in the automotive space. The government, through this multi-sectoral partnership with Hyundai (Caetano-Kenya) and Plan International will play a significant milestone in ensuring that our country will meet its development agenda of promoting quality, relevance and inclusivity in education and quality skills development as enablers for socio- economic development and global competitiveness,” said Chelugui.
Plan International Kenya Country Director Ms. Kate Maina – Vorley said that women and girls must challenge the perception that courses such as automotive engineering are male dominated.
“A mismatch between employer needed skills and skills acquired from training institutions has been identified as among the major causes of unemployment. Kenyan employers are increasingly finding graduates, male and female alike, insufficiently prepared for the workplace. The industry is equally advancing much faster technologically than our education institutions,” said Maina-Vorley.
It is estimated that 21% of female youth are unemployed compared to 17% of their male counterparts. Even among the 42% of youths not in employment education and training (NEET), female youth are disproportionately represented within the group, significantly higher than males at 14%, further confirming that access to employment and opportunities for obtaining a living in Kenya are cut along age and gender lines. Women, youth and those from low-income households are more likely to be excluded from jobs, particularly better-quality jobs.
“Women are a driving force in our economies and this program will give them the tools to unlock their capabilities in a male dominated industry. It is worth noting that as much as efforts and initiatives towards addressing unemployment especially amongst the young people are in place, young women and girls are still the most affected and far prepared for the labour market than their male counterparts,” said Maina – Vorley.
Kenya is one of the developing countries in Africa that experiences a high rate of unemployment particularly among the youth. According to the 2019 National population census, the youth make up for 75% of the total population. Unemployment among the youth is significantly larger, 40% to be precise, than that of the entire working age group.
Established by Hyundai Motor, Hyundai Dream Centre is a boost of the vocational training courses at NITA to help stimulate growth in the local automotive industry using the latest technology. The Centre creates employment opportunities in the automotive field to youth in underprivileged communities.