Recruitment to the National Youth Service (NYS) trainees halved to 16,483 in 2018, locking out thousands of unemployed youths, even as the government moved to improve the welfare of those selected into the programme.
The main aim of NYS is to equip young Kenyans with technical skills to solve the ever-rising rate of unemployment, which stands at 7.4 percent.
Fresh data compiled by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that the number of NYS servicemen and women recruited dipped by 44 per cent from 29,193 in 2017 to 16,483 in 2018.
Recruitment in the programme had been on rise from 10,551 trainees in 2015, before touching a high of 29,193 in 2017. The programme targets Kenyan youth aged between 18 and 22.
Even worse, is that the proportion of men recruited, more than doubled compared to that of women, in a country where women have been economically marginalised.
About 11,893 men were recruited in the year compared to 4,590 females enrolled.
Nevertheless, the drastic drop in the recruitment affected both gender.
The number of men dropped by 44.1 per cent from the 21,262 men recruited in the previous year. Female also dropped by almost equal proportion of 42.1 per cent from 7,931 in 2017.
The drop in recruitment comes amid various benefits for the trainees including increment in allowances and employment opportunities for the NYS graduates.
In 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered allowance increment for the servicemen in the NYS programme.
The allowances, which had stagnated at Sh700, were increased to Sh2,100 a month, with Sh1,500 being allowances and Sh600 as savings, thereby tripling total allowances paid out to the trainees from Sh260.8 million to Sh1 billion in 2018.
Last year, the National Assembly passed a Bill that will see NYS graduates given the first priority to join the military and other disciplined forces during recruitment exercises.
Centum Investment’s security subsidiary, Tribus TSG, also inked a deal to hire 300 people graduating from the youth service annually.
“Through this is MoU we will work closely with the National Youth Service to ensure that the opportunities created for these graduate’s aid in achieving the country’s economic agenda,” said Centum chief executive James Mworia.
The NYS graduates will be hired annually in nine job categories including safety and security, soft services and hard services.
Soft services includes hygiene technicians and consumable operators while hard services includes electrical and water service workers.
Recruitment in the NYS is conducted biannually across the 47 counties. The young men and women in the programme saves up to 30 per cent of their daily wages in a sacco when undertaking development projects.
The recruits are also helped in forming Self Employment Promotion Units (SEPUs), which they can use, as well as their sacco savings, to start businesses.
With the skills gained, the youths are eligible to additional funding from government institutions such as the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Uwezo, and Women Enterprise Fund.
In the past, NYS trainees cried foul over unpaid allowances.
The most recent one involved the Ministry of Interior, which failed to pay Sh31 million to the NYS servicemen and women despite spending Sh3.4 billion to construct a 10-kilometre wall along the Kenya-Somalia boarder.
The NYS trainees were involved in the construction of the ongoing Sh8 billion Kenya-Somalia boarder wall for nearly 18 months before they were withdrawn when the Defence Ministry took over the project.
Each of the trainee, who was involved in the construction of the wall, was entitled to Sh30,000 flat-rate allowance after they went on a go-slow following the non-payment of as the work done along the border.