Meet Vera Chepkorir, government worker with a message for unemployed Kenyans [Pulse Contributor's Interview]

Why TVET is the way to go

Narok County Youth Officer Vera Chepkorir

At only 26 years of age, Vera Chepkorir is an officer of the Narok County government.

That in itself is worth commending, given that the civil service is majorly run by much older officers.

Ms Chepkorir is a youth leader who works in the TVET department and had the chance to sit with Pulse Contributor Gichimu Njeri for an enlightening chat.

Here are her thoughts on why getting skills is the best option for the youths.

Who is Miss Vera Chepkorir?

Vera Chepkorir is a 26-year-old former student leader from Moi University. Currently, I work for the County Government of Narok as a Youth Officer at the Department of Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

I am a teacher of English and Literature by profession.

Youth matters on leadership, education, and governance are personal to you, why?

I believe that the youth should be at the forefront in matters of leadership and governance because we form 70% of the Kenyan total population.

There's a need to inject fresh ideas and energy into the system. This can only be done if we get out of our comfort zones, seize the opportunities and take up leadership positions.

We can only bring forth changes if we are part and parcel of the system. What I abhor and discourage is laziness for the youth who sit down and think they will land on a silver platter.

Given a chance to advise a form four leaver on the next course of action, what would you tell them?

Let me be particular about those who did not attain the minimum entry grade (C+) for university, through the Kenya University and College Central Placement Service -KUCCPS. All is not lost.

The government has injected resources for Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET). There's no excuse as to why they cannot join these institutions since the government provides HELB Loans for trainees.

Vocational Training Centers formerly known as Village Polytechnics admit trainees with the lowest qualification as Class 8 certificates, where the government also provides subsidies and grants that cater for the tuition fees.

I want to emphasize TVET because that's where individuals acquire hands-on skills for employability.

Is there any conflict between skills and knowledge? What would be your preference?

Yes. There's a huge conflict between skills and knowledge because the latter is perceived to be more prestigious than the former.

It has been a tradition that everybody should go to school so they can join University and later secure white-collar jobs. Where then do we leave the 70% of the population who don't qualify for KUCCPS?

I prefer the Skills offered in our TVET colleges than pursuing some university courses that eventually render most of the youth jobless and frustrated.

Most of these economic giants like China and Japan have embraced skills rather than knowledge. A country that focuses on production more than consumption is economically prosperous.

The incumbent Kenyan government has tried to focus on manufacturing and housing as part of the big four agenda. Where will we find the skills and expertise? I am encouraging any youth to join the nearest TVET institution. The world is going TVET!

You are a strong proponent of TVET, are there enough courses for all the learners in your county or the learners just replicate the commonly known skills?

There are a variety of courses ranging from manufacturing courses, building and construction courses e.g. carpentry, plumbing, electrical courses, to fashion design, tailoring and garment making, catering, hairdressing, among others.

These courses can never be replicated because the main objective is that the trainees can acquire these hands-on skills for self-employment.

What advice would you offer to the jobless youths without capital?

Start small and be patient. We've seen renowned businessmen and women make use of little capital and eventually build strong household brands. Jerusalem was not built in a day and a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

What does it take to be a youth leader?

To be a youth leader takes bravery and resilience. Be a person who is always ready to seize the opportunity, building networks across all boards and of course honing exemplary leadership skills.

Comment on the future of the youth in governance and leadership.

I see a futuristic youth leadership and governance that will have the youth on the decision-making tables and boardrooms. However, we need to start now for tomorrow never comes. The slogan that keeps me going is a French phrase: Carpe Diem (seize the moment).

The foregoing is an Interview Article submitted to Pulse Live Kenya for publication as part of the Pulse Contributors initiative.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

Should you wish to submit an Article to Pulse, do so via contributors@pulse.co.ke.

Gichimu Njeri (pictured) is a bilingual wordsmith, poet and a seasoned educator who loves reading. He has a soft spot for matters youth and children which make them major characters in his works. "Jomo and the Wild Cats", "Whitened Black and Other Poems" and "Ari ya Pasha" are some of his published works.

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