Employability training delivers life-changing opportunity to slum youth

Employability training delivers life-changing opportunity to slum youth
August 18, 2021 Denis Koech

​William moved to Nairobi from his rural home in western Kenya in 2019, shortly after completing his high school education, to pursue his dream of getting a job. He settled in his aunt’s place in Mathare urban slum. He started searching for jobs, but none was forthcoming, largely due to his lack of basic skills that employers look for.

After spending a few months with his aunt, he learned about SHOFCO’s employability training and decided to give it a try. 

“The training was offered for free and I decided to try it instead of wasting time in the village. I come from a poor background and I could not afford to pay for a course elsewhere. Life itself was a struggle. By that time I didn’t even know what I exactly wanted. I just wanted a job,” William says.

During the course of the training, he learned that SHOFCO could link him with further training with her partners. He expressed interest in private security, and shortly after the training, SHOFCO placed him at CAP Youth Empowerment Institute (CAPYEI).

“I chose security studies because I had learned from my short stay in the slum that security jobs were highly available as long as one had the skills, certificate, and passion,” William adds.

After just one month into the three-month training, CAPYEI employed William as a night private security guard on their premises.

William says, “I used to work at night and then study during the day. It was a great experience for me and I had to be good in time management and discipline in order to be successful,”

Upon completion of the training, SHOFCO and CAPYEI sought a job placement opportunity for William at a local supermarket. He served there as a guard before being promoted to supervise other guards in the facility. This promotion would later open a golden door for him.

“In the course of my usual duty in early 2020, I helped a woman who was struggling to push her trolley. She was surprised and asked me if I could give her my contacts, which I did. She would later send me a job advert at Safaricom telling me to try it.”

He applied for the job and after a thorough interview process, he was employed as a receptionist at Safaricom headquarters. Within a few months, he was also promoted as a supervisor, an opportunity that resulted in him supervising some staff who were more educated than him.

Since then, he has continued to grow. He attributes this growth to the employability skills he acquired at SHOFCO’s sustainable livelihoods program. The skills include customer service, communication, leadership, teamwork, self-presentation, problem-solving, self-management, time management, planning and organizing, and decision making. 

“These skills have kept me going. With good papers and none of these skills, one can hardly make it. I have seen this in the few years I have been working,” William says.

William has enrolled in a business management course at a local university in order to boost his management skills. He is also investing his time in building the capacity of other young people to enable them to achieve their dreams. 

“Some people helped me to reach where I am and it is my obligation to help others too. I dedicate my time to share my experience with them and even link them with opportunities I come across,” he says.

He concludes with some advice to young people, “Be disciplined, be smart at work and be techno-savvy. God is there to help you in the rest. Academic certificates do not work alone. You need soft skills. Remember when you are given a job, you should deliver.”

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