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Kenya launches China-funded skills up-
grade program for construction industry

By Christine Lagat NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Monday launched a China-funded program to boost training and mentorship for youth keen to work in the country’s blossoming construction industry.

Senior officials witnessed the launch of season four of the African Technology Challenge (ATC), funded by Chinese firm AVIC International. The program’s goal is to refine the technical expertise of young people and enhance their employability in building and construction sectors.

“We are proud to witness this year’s Africa Technology Challenge focus on civil engineering disciplines like masonry, carpentry and steel works. The challenge will empower youth from different backgrounds,” said Dinah Mwinzi, principal secretary in the State Department of Technical and Vocational Training under the Ministry of Education.

The fourth edition of ATC program, dubbed “Jenga Vijana,” or empower the youth, combines skills upgrade and employment opportunities for Kenyan youth in the construction sector.

Mwinzi said that a public-private partnership is key to helping bridge skills gap in the construction sector that has thrived against a backdrop of massive capital injection from local and foreign investors.

“We need skilled personnel to work in critical sectors like housing. The youth who are trained in masonry or carpentry can also apply their skills outside the country,” Mwinzi said.

She added that highly trained youth will help the government tackle an annual shortfall of 200,000 housing units in the country.

Zhao Leilei, project manager with AVIC International Kenya, said improving civil engineering expertise among Kenyan youth is key to promoting economic growth and industrialization in the country.

“This year’s Africa Technology Challenge will see the participants advance their civil construction skills while earning an income throughout the competition period,” Zhao said.

More than 100 Kenyan youth will benefit from advanced training in civil engineering disciplines like carpentry, steel works and brick laying, to be provided by AVIC International.

Lynette Mwende, from AVIC International Kenya, said the youth enrolled in the one-month training program will acquire skills as they work at a construction site in Nairobi where the company is setting up apartment blocks.

“We decided to train the youth on construction-based skills. This year’s Africa Technology Challenge is like an apprenticeship program where trainees are provided with a platform to perfect their skills as they earn an income,” said Mwende. 



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