Tackling Youth Unemployment in Kenya with Work-Study Program

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Tackling Youth Unemployment in Kenya with Work-Study Program

Digital Divide Data Kenya joins the Business Call to Action with commitment to train and employ poor youth
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Monday, April 11, 2016 - 10:25am

CONTENT: Press Release

New York, April 11, 2016 /3BL Media/ – Digital Divide Data (DDD) Kenya, an internationally acclaimed social enterprise that delivers high-quality business process outsourcing (BPO) services to clients worldwide, has joined the Business Call to Action with a commitment to train and employ 600 young people from poor families living in the slums of Nairobi. In addition, the company is commited to ensuring that 300 of its work-study graduates receive a college degree, work experience and a secure professional job by 2018.

Kenya faces an acute youth bulge, with 80 percent of the country’s population under the age of 35. Among those of working age (15 to 35 years), 70 percent are unemployed. Two of the leading causes of Kenya’s high unemployment are low academic achievement and a lack of marketable labour skills.

“DDD’s emphasis on developing its employees through technical training and support for higher education is producing a highly capable talent pool that can drive Kenya’s economic development,” said Jeremy Hockenstein, DDD Kenya’s CEO. “By creating an inclusive workplace, we are giving youth the chance to develop the skills and competencies they need to succeed in today’s globally connected, fast-moving economy. We are pleased to join the BCtA and look forward to working with the programme in the years ahead.”

Through its inclusive model, referred to as Impact Sourcing, DDD works in collaboration with Nairobi’s secondary schools to recruit motivated young people from poor communities. The programme combines long-term work experience with higher education scholarships intended to develop professional careers and earn higher incomes for its graduates. To qualify, young people must be between 15 and 29 years old, and have a Certificate of Secondary Education. Half of the recruits are women and 10 percent are disabled.

The initial training period combines technical skills training specific to BPO services (such as typing, basic computer skills and digital marketing), as well as “soft skills” for better workplace performance, to prepare students for their first formal jobs. The programme also includes guidance in personal development, continuing education and job-specific skills such as marketable data management and research. For most participants, this is their first work experience.

After the  initial training period is complete, successful youth enter the educational phase of the work-study programme. While they work at DDD, they also receive partial scholarships or access to loans for college through the Kenyan Government’s Higher Education Loans Board. DDD’s approach enables participating youth to earn an income and support their families, build skills and gain a university degree in the field of their choice.

The work of DDD Kenya and other local businesses to improve the career opportunities for disadvantaged young people was highlighted in the report “Building Future Markets.” The report was launched at a day-long event that brought together leaders from business, education and government to explore the private sector’s successes, challenges and potential to address Kenya’s youth unemployment. The event was organized by UNDP, BCtA, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and the Global Compact Network Kenya.

“DDD Kenya’s inclusive business is delivering important education and marketing skills that help poor young people to break the cycle of poverty – for themselves and their families,” said Sahba Sobhani, BCtA’s Acting Project Manager. “We are pleased to welcome them to the Business Call to Action and look forward to working with them in the months and more ahead.”

The work of DDD Kenya and other local businesses to improve the career opportunities for disadvantaged young people was highlighted in the report Building Future Markets.

For further information:
Business Call to Action:
Tatiana Bessarabova

DDD Kenya:

Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.

About Business Call to Action (BCtA): The Business Call to Action challenges companies to advance core business activities that are inclusive of poor populations and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals.  Worldwide, more than 140 companies, from SMEs to multinationals, have responded to the BCtA by making commitments to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions through commercially-viable business ventures that engage low-income people as consumers, producers, suppliers, and distributors of goods and services.

The Business Call to Action is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development (DFID), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat — in collaboration with leading global institutions, such as the United Nations Global Compact, and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Opportunities for the Majority Initiative. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.

About DDD Kenya: Founded in 2001 in Cambodia, DDD is a recognized pioneer of Impact Sourcing. DDD now has offices in Cambodia, Laos, Kenya and the U.S. DDD’s model has become widely accepted and replicated with global corporations, large BPO initiatives, start-ups and other institutions, including the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals, which has embraced this model and selected DDD among the top 100 outsourcing businesses globally in its Global Outsourcing 100. 

Keywords: Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship | Business & Trade | Business Call to Action | Digital Divide Data Kenya | Diversity & Human Resources | Education | Social Development | Technology | Teen Action

CONTENT: Press Release