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Kenyan youth prepare to enter the apparel industry

Published on August 31, 2017

Sewing machine operators training has begun! The first groups reported to training centers in Mombasa and Kilifi counties on August 21 and in Nairobi on August 28. Large apparel companies, such as Mombasa Apparel and Africa Apparel EPZ are serving as hosts to the centers. More training centers will come online soon.

The new training centers are part of a Hub initiative to train 2,000 Kenyan youth in preparation for full-time sewing machine operator jobs in the apparel industry. The trained youth will help mitigate the skills gap that currently hinders growth in Kenya’s apparel sector. The initiative is being implemented by Hub grantee Career Readiness Social Initiative Limited, a local subsidiary of the McKinsey Social Initiative.

The eight-week training curriculum focuses on the technical skills of sewing machine operation and the soft skills that will help youth maintain their jobs, such as effective communication and active, and setting personal goals and managing one’s time.

East Africa is establishing itself as a key-sourcing destination for buyers of global apparel, footwear and travel goods. Recently renewed to 2025, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provides duty-free access for originating apparel and textile products, offering major savings for U.S. buyers sourcing from AGOA eligible countries. 

The Hub grant will support Kenyan apparel manufacturers’ source skilled entry-level workers who are ready and willing to make a career in the fast-growing apparel industry in Kenya. This will help sustain Kenya's apparel exports to the United States under AGOA.

This training program is part of the Hub’s larger “East Africa Cotton, Textile and Apparel Workforce Development Initiative.” It supports a commitment by the Hub, under its recent MOU with the American Apparel and Footwear Association, to make it easier for East African apparel producers to access skilled workers. The workforce training program will be rolled out to other countries in East Africa.