SPECIAL REPORT: Over 70 Mombasa youth benefit from technical courses training

    [Cohorts taking practical lessons on welding and fabrication. Photo/Ahmed Omar].

    About 70 youths from Mombasa County and its environs have benefited from a three year technical courses training, courtesy of Mombasa Go Kart-Company (funfair joint) and Severin Sea Lodge Beach hotel.

    The cohorts at the vocational training center are undertaking technical courses in electrical, plumbing, masonry, carpentry and joinery, welding and fabrication both in theory and practical lessons.

    This Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by the two companies is geared towards addressing unemployment among the youth.

    Youth unemployment and underemployment has been a major issue in Kenya for years where about one in every three people under 35 is unable to find a job, despite being qualified.

    Policy makers and stakeholders have invested in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions, anticipating that the increase in skill acquisition will result in access to gainful employment.


    Two foreign investors, Mr Severin Schulte, the hotel owner and the funfair joint proprietor Reto Casanova are the brains behind the institute offering technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) tailored courses curved out of Europe apprenticeship training system.

    The innovative concept includes a preventive maintenance program for the hotel buildings and machines, which offers the trainees the ideal opportunity to realise their acquired skills.

    “We focus on practical approaches or learning by doing. We now have students who started 10 days ago and they are already building walls. They make bricks and bridges at the moment. These kids, their motivation is very high because, like colleges, where you build something, scrap it and start again. We do practical work from day one and teach them theory on safety tools and workplace safety standards,” said Reto in an interview.

    The institution was born out of a lack of qualified craftsmen in Mombasa to hire for the repair work and maintenance in intensive business ventures like his funfair joint.

    “We always have high demand maintenance work and that is when we come up with the idea to train our own craftsmen and release them to the job market,” he added.

    Adopted system

    Reto noted that the three year practical led vocational training is tailored from the European apprenticeship system, which had been credited for the industrial revolution and economic growth in countries like Germany, France, Spain and Britain.

    In Europe, high school leavers either join universities or pursue apprenticeship pathways to work and earn salaries as they acquire trade skills.

    The Swiss does most of his work at his Mombasa Go-Kart funfair park with his bare-knuckle through set of skills he had acquired through apprenticeship training after his elementary school late 70s in his motherland.

    “We try to bring the system and adapt it to Kenya reality but the system does not take off because it has no cultural anchor here. Which company employs youngsters for four years, trains them and pays them salary and after four year, they go into competition. That is normal procedure in Europe,” he remarked.

    The Swiss observed that such parental and society influence on youngsters has been the main cause of slow uptake of TVET courses among the country’s secondary school leavers amid a widespread notion of superiority status placed on university degrees.

    Shifting focus

    Here in Kenya, parents with money push their youngsters into universities to do courses like international conflict resolution and they end up with no chance to find jobs. You can still go to the university after apprenticeship, you will be a more qualified engineer because you have learnt it from the bottom. Nobody has to tell you this is not possible, because you have done it yourself and you have broader knowledge,” he observed.

    [Reto Casanova addressing the media at Severin Craftsman Training Center. Photo/Ahmed Omar].

    Sarah Kenyanya Julius and Michael Odhiambo are among such students who have already set their goals upon graduating from Severin Craftsman Training Center.

    Sarah and Michael are in their second year of their welding and fabrication and plumbing courses respectively.

    The institute received 4 million shillings support from Skills for Africa (SIFA), an initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC) supported by the German Government to strengthen occupational prospects of young people in Africa.