Startup pegs on customised training for skilled workforce

Monday, November 18th, 2019 07:06 |

Each year, there is an inundation of college graduates anticipating to get a slice of the job market. However, the reality is that white-collar employment is no longer sufficient, meaning it’s critical for individuals to start thinking of ways to successfully transition into self-employment and consequently becoming job creators. 

Whether one is seeking employment or looking to become a business owner and job creator, the common denominator in both is that they must be equipped with relevant skills for professional growth and productivity. Realising there is a perpetual shift in the labour market that demands high-value professional skills, Yusudi, a social enterprise in Kenya modelled a programme named Jijali to provide free professional skills growth training to the youth.  

With Jijali, Yusudi founders Charlotte De Ridder and Nastia Gutsol not only wanted to tackle unemployment, but also the “lack of job fulfillment and self-realisation among millenials”. 

To understand what the needs of this group in the local market, the founders spent half a year conducting market research for skills learning and employability. In the process, they were met with a bustling entrepreneurial eco-system in Nairobi that they were drawn to.

Deep passion  

The donor-supported initiative’s goal is to train over 3,000 youth in the next two years. “Our main criteria for shortlisting participants is looking at the motivation and the end goal of the individual applying for the programme and their ability to access a computer and Internet for learning. The age selection ranges from 18-26 years for work readiness and 18-30 for entrepreneurship. We also consider their time availability to go through learning,” says Nastia. This year’s cohort made their entry in September and the next one will be in January 2020. And the subsequent cycles will be based on the same intake sessions.

To ensure trainees are in good hands at Jijali, the mentors and trainers must have a deep passion for youth mentorship and professional growth. Two years of professional experience and a demonstration of coaching skills and mentorship is a prerequisite. Upon selection, they are coached to tailor-fit the Jijali education approach.

Since its unveiling in 2018, as far as grooming of individuals for entrepreneurial and employment success goes, Jijali has recorded considerable progress from their alumni. 

“In 2018, we had 500 trainees. The follow-up surveys showed that over 70 per cent of them have reported significant positive changes in their careers or entrepreneurship activities due to the programme. For many of them, it would be getting a job, receiving a pay raise or improving sales numbers on their businesses,” Nastia explains. 

Once trainees leave the programme, the team immediately follows up on the alumni and checks in again half a year later.  “We inquire about the impact of the programme and collect in-depth data and feedback to ensure we can improve it further. The outcomes such as career progress, sales increase or overall income increase is what we are looking to achieve with our learners. We are currently developing a framework that will allow us to create a strong alumni community and a life-long connection with the programme’s participants after they finish their training with Jijali,” says Nastia.

Any social enterprise must be founded on a financially sustainable model and one might ask; for how long will Jijali rely on donor funds? The founders are confident that the project will soon will soon sustain itself; that despite it still being in the testing and formative stages, it will eventually sink its teeth into its niche and transition into a self-sustaining social business model. It is being chiseled on a foundation that will keep it running on a long-term scale, with the possibility of keeping it free of charge along with paid programmes that are being curated and expect to be unveiled within a year.

Paid placement  

Jijali is not the only initiative at Yusudi. The enterprise has a career accelerator programme called Skills2Grow, which has been running for three years now. The programme informed the creation of Jijali.

“Skills2Grow offers in-person six-week skills training followed by a paid placement in the entry-level jobs in Nairobi. The placements can be done in the areas of digital marketing, business development, customer service and administration. This programme is ideal for university graduates available full-time and ready for an intense training and employment experience,” says Nastia.

Further still, Yusudi provides customised training and learning design services for business and non-governmental clients. Such services include soft skills, business skills, management and leadership programmess unique to the needs of an organisation.

Yusudi was launched in 2016 and within a short amount of time, their acquired heavyweight clients. Their biggest selling point, they say, has been caring about the end result for their customers.

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