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Analysing the labour market

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The objective of this project is to help young Maasai to escape poverty and unemployment. Kenya-based ILIDP began the 7-STEPS by defining local needs and undertaking a labour market study. Questionnaires were distributed to key stakeholders in the community. The outcomes of the study were used to develop a successful project.

Key words:

  • Illiterate Maasai youth
  • Motor vehicle mechanics and driving
  • Carpentry and joinery
  • Dressmaking and tailoring

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“The drought came and took all my family’s cattle and sheep, but now I have a skill and drought cannot touch my family” (quote from a carpentry trainee).

Defining the labour market
ILIDP brought together young people to discuss how to develop relevant skills. Information was gathered via interviews and questionnaires with key stakeholders in the local community and vocational trainers.  A local consultancy firm did a labour market study on market needs and the report was shared with young people and Vocational Education and Training (VET) actors.

Analysing the labour market
ILIDP based its analysis on labour market study. Job opportunities were categorised and courses were identified to match. ILIDP then developed the training centre and identified and mobilised young people to take courses and trainers to guide them.


  • ILIDP commissioned the labour market study, led the analysis, identified potential trades, established a training centre, mobilised youth, engaged trainers and identified partners.
  • Young people: around 1,200 local youth aged between 18 and 30 years participated.
  • Consultants: Hit-mac consultants, a Nairobi-based research team that does market mapping, was engaged for the exercise.
  • Community groups: key stakeholders and leaders, young people, households, business representatives and educational organisations.


  • Human resources (consultancy staff) for defining the labour market: 21 days.
  • Time and personnel resources for analysis and planning: 2 people for 6 weeks.
  • Financial resources to establish the training centre, mobilise young people and monitor trainers: 1,100 euros.


  • A report on findings of the labour market study. The mapping exercise showed that 60% of young people targeted were illiterate and therefore required practical training. In addition, ILIDP needed to address training and institutional issues before taking on vocational skills provision, such as transforming sections of its community training centre into vocational skills workshops with tools and equipment. It also needed to accommodate the vocational skills centre in its institutional system by developing cost systems and liaising with potential partners. The report guided the definitive plan and the decision to establish the training centre.
  • An analysis of the report and identification of relevant jobs. The courses identified to fill market gaps were: Motor Vehicle Mechanics and Driving, Carpentry, Dressmaking and Tailoring.
  • Identification of partners.

Lessons learned

  • It is essential to define your labour market and the relevant courses by doing a labour market study. Without this, it would have been very difficult for ILIDP to engage in TVET.
  • Contextualisation of activities: rather than following preconceived ideas, look to the analysis of the labour market for the types of courses/trades that are needed locally.
  • The ILIDP training centre, as a pastoralist institution, played a key role in understanding the context and training needs as well as responding to changing labour market needs.
  • Monitoring of trainers is essential: ILIDP encouraged trainers to adopt a more practical approach to training. Regular interaction between the management trainers and trainees created good working relations, which contributed to the appreciation and non-judgemental assessment of trainers.
  • Challenges: it is difficult to achieve gender-balanced training in a rural society. The girls are either in school or married; there is no in-between option. This calls for the development of new approaches to address skills acquisition by women within their environment, such as encouraging women to increase their entrepreneurial skills in the local marketplace. ILIDP also decided to drop a masonry course due to low demand. This is a reminder that supply must be linked to demand in training programmes.


  • Undertake a labour market study and define your parameters.
  • Develop training programmes that are informed by job opportunities; avoid saturation of one trade at the expense of another.
  • Update your labour market needs on a regular basis to accommodate emerging demands.
  • Have a clear vision of what you can and cannot offer trainees. For example, if you have a training centre, provide specific courses and let aspiring trainees shape their aspirations in line with these.
  • When possible, train young people for self-employment, specifically in remote areas.
  • Follow up on your graduates with additional training courses and visits to their workplaces. Follow up on the trainers as well.
  • Contextualise your programme by incorporating the specific results of the labour market mapping.


Taking care of cattle, goats and sheep is no longer the only option for Loita Maasai youth. Through this project they can make a different living and escape poverty and unemployment.

Short facts
Sector: Various Sectors of Vocational Training
Lead partner: Ilkerin Loita Integral Development Programme (ILIDP)
Overall budget for the project: € 588.437
Learn4Work contribution: € 200.069
Partner contribution: € 388.368
Implementation period: April 2014- December 2016


Masai Mara Game Reserve is a world-class tourist attraction. Every year thousands and thousands of people from all over the world travel to see the big 5 in their beautiful natural habitat. However, this stunning area has a darker side too. The indigenous Masai communities of this most famous part of East-Africa are extremely poor. Masai herders are fenced off and evicted from their ancestral land. The creation of game parks, private ranches and gigantic wheat farms poses a great threat to their pastoral traditions. Additionally, climate change and droughts endanger their traditional way of living on the savannahs of southern Kenya with their cattle, goats and sheep.

Illiterate and Unemployed

One of the Masai tribes, the Loita Maasai, are found in the southern regions of Narok County. This project seeks to address one of their biggest problems: the youth having no prospect for a better life. 60% of the young people in the Loita Maasai pastoralist communities are illiterate. They are unskilled and unemployed and cannot learn a trade by entering the Government’s vocational education courses, as this often requires a primary school certificate.

Good Examples

Already some research has been done on the needs of the local labour market. Based on this, a  community NGO will develop 5 in-house courses and 2 shorter entrepreneurial skills trainings. With lots of practice and little theory and no primary school certificate needed, these courses are accessible for all.  The 2 shorter courses are specifically designed for Loita Maasai women, as it is often difficult for them to leave their families and join a residential course. There will be training on carpentry, motor vehicle mechanics, tailoring & dressmaking, hairdressing and working as a tour guide in the hospitality industry. The total number of youth that will benefit over the next 3 years is 105, 56 male and 46 female. This may seem a drop in the ocean, but nevertheless it is expected that these trainees will set the desperately needed good examples in their communities. They will be earning an income and not fall into the trap of criminality or drugs. And they will be inspiring their peers by showing them there are opportunities for all. For example, after a dressmaking course, you only need a sewing machine and a space on the veranda of a shop to start repairing clothes and start a business.

Loving Education

The courses will continuously improve and become more market oriented as graduates will be asked to provide feedback once they start working. By 2016 the project aims to also work closer with the Government’s vocational training centres and involve the private sector in the development of future vocational courses. An important expected result of the project is that communities will no longer solely rely on eating or selling their animals for their food. This makes them less vulnerable for droughts. Once they have alternative ways of earning a living, they can also buy food in the market and invest in subsistence farming of maize and beans. Ultimately there is the hope that, because of their positive experiences with these courses, the Loita Maasai youth will start to love education. Once they value going to school, their children will go to school as well and a sustainable education system will be in place.

Public Private Partnership

Public and private partners work closely together in this project to ensure the trainings are relevant to the labour market. Lead partner Ilkerin Loita Integral Development Programme (ILIDP) will be coordinating the project and function as the vocational training institution. The Pastoralists Community Development Associations (PCDA) will keep in touch with the trainees after they finish their courses and, together with ILIDP, will support them to find jobs or start their own business.

Wanted: Dutch Partner Organisation

The Kenyan partners have all the necessary local knowledge to identify the needs of the labour market and design the courses. A Dutch Vocational School could join this process and provide fresh inputs for example on didactics and training methods. Therefore ILIDP encourages vocational schools in the Netherlands to join this partnership and support the quality of the courses with their expertise and experience.

Other Contributing Partners:

Narok Youth Polytechnic (NYP), Boda Boda Enterprises,  More Just and Balance Development (MBJ),  Peter van den Broek (former teacher at Fontys University)

  • Testimony student: Toyie has no education and was married at 14. Now 19, she is a widow with two children to care for. She told us: “The project has given me tailoring skills and I make school uniforms. Now I can support myself and my children.
  • Testimony student: A young illiterate Maasai man came to Ilkerin and said, “I need this computer course because I need to establish a shop”. He followed the course successfully and completed his studies. After a few months later, he came back to tell us that he had succeeded in setting up his own shop.

Ilkerin Loita Integral Development Programme

PO Box 128, 20500
Tel. +254 (0)5022280
E-mail: Ilkerin[at]
Contacts: Mrs Crescentia Senteu and Mr Mark Karbolo

Narok Youth Polytechnic

Tel:+254 (0)20 2123814 / 0723245091
Contact: Mr. Daniel Korir

Boda Boda Enterprise

Email: : Parkisuaar[at]
Contact: Mr Richard Parkisuaa

Pastoralist Community Development Associations

Email: jpkoin[at]
Contact: Mr Josphat Koin

MBJ-Dev Consultant

Email: martina[at]
Contact: Mrs Marina Benschop Jansen

Solar for Sub Saharan Schools and Communities S3C

Email: info[at]

Peter Van den Broek

Email: p.vandenbroek[at]