The mega youth Careers Expo held over the two days at the Kenya YMCA grounds on State House Road from 25th to 26th November 2016 attracted over a thousand youth. The opening ceremony addressed by Africa Alliance YMCA General Secretary Carlos Sanvee highlighted key youth attributes of passion and energy: “YMCA teaches them to unlock their potential”.
The Careers Expo saw government, non-profit and private sector stakeholders rally together to prioritise young people in employment, entrepreneurship coaching and procurement opportunities, in generous support of the YMCAs. The Careers Expo was dubbed Career Manenoz for highlighting issues in various ways including storytelling. The keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the Career Manenoz, the Honourable Speaker of the Senate, Hon. Ekwee Ethuro shared this inspiring message “Through the National Employment Authority Bill that his Excellency the President assented into Law, the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) as well as the Presidential Digital Talent Programme, the government is prioritising young people and persons with disabilities in procurement opportunities. We look forward to working with partners such as YMCAs to deepen our work,” he said.
The launch day of the Expo kicked off with a “Stop Poverty” procession through the streets of Nairobi. Interestingly, during the final planning sessions held the day before, the Career Expo action committee could hear the sounds of riots in the very same streets planned for the procession. The purpose of the “Stop Poverty” procession was to highlight alternative demonstration through peaceful means. The streets of Nairobi were painted red in solidarity with the message that poverty has to stop, sustainable peace is priority and that youth connection to opportunities is vital in building the African Renaissance. The youth of Kenya enthusiastically owned this message with their vibrant presence. The procession was led by the Hon.Senate Speaker as well as the Hon. Dr Mark Leruk, Commissioner of Police, Kenya. Dr Mark Leruk also provided generous support during a Vibe session held later in the day.
The two-day programme engaged young people in a number of events which included interactive information sessions, mentoring, as well as discussion on sensitive topics. These sessions were referred to as Vibes, Hangouts and Hotbench sessions and served specific objectives. Vibe sessions provided the empowerment space for learning, engagement and guidance on a range of 13 topics. These topics covered job preparedness, health, leadership, kilimo, writing and even sexual and reproductive health,amongst others. Hangouts provided the opportunity for youth engagement on creative economies young people could explore including fashion, filmmaking and dance. The Hotbench facilitated discussions on policy addressing youth with disabilities in the workplace.
The carefully planned information sessions sought to inspire young people beyond the conventional channels of career options and wealth creation avenues. Mr Sanvee said “We need to guide our youth to go beyond the conventional career choices so that they explore other thriving career options in the creative economy, craftsmanship, the arts as well as sports.”
Mr Jared Musima, the General Secretary of Kenya YMCA, addressed the crowd ensuring that the YMCA will work with several partners to ensure follow up and support to the targeted young people. “The youth will be assimilated into the different Youth Empowerment Spaces hosted by the YMCAs countrywide. The YMCA will offer entrepreneurial training and business start-up support, deepen career and peer support,” he said.
Social media responses to the Careers Expo reflected positive feedback. Responses included “I was motivated on how to become a young entrepreneur, start my own business” while others read “I am happy,I am learning new things each time”. Another youth member had this to say “God Bless you as you help many more less fortunate people in our society especially the youth. Thanks for the great work you are doing”
Social media trended #CareerManenoz as the event gained more attention through the two days.
The event was also supported by the presence of valued exhibitors who further provided young people access to view their products and services and be informed of the opportunities available to the youth. The Youth Fund who participated as well is quoted as saying “The event provides an opportunity for youth to interact with players in the various career sectors, get real-time mentorship, recruitment and job placement opportunities”
The Career Manenoz served our young people by providing a broad spectrum of professionals to guide mentorship and share vital information relating to sound career choices and opportunities. The closing of the Careers Expo was celebrated with a graduation ceremony held for youth who had undergone a 10-week entrepreneurship and job preparedness course supported by Citi Foundation. Ms MaryAnne Mwaura, Public Affairs Officer, East Africa Citibank addressed the youth stating “Citibank seeks to develop youth’s capacity for development”. She further encouraged the youth to: “Take risks, learn from them and seek to grow daily”
Closing celebrations included a fashion show showcasing local talent by Walter’s Fashion and an Alternative Rave session. The rave session encouraged youth to be able to have fun and express themselves without the indulgence of alcohol. Young people (and some young at heart) sealed the fabulous event to the sounds of the On Point Media and Miss Koch.
The AAYMCA and Kenya YMCA are deeply appreciative and thankful to all valued contributors and stakeholders, in the various significant forms, in making this event a successful ground-breaking one.