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Skills for life: A rousing speech from Generation Kenya

– When one million young people are out of work, pessimism comes easily. But Simon Mwangi, a 23-year-old graduate of Generation Kenya, never stopped looking for opportunity. He enrolled in the education-to-employment program, graduated, and now works at a large insurance company.

“The Generation program’s main objective is not just to give us knowledge,” says Mwangi. “But most importantly it is to give us skills—not just skills to help us grow in our workplace, but also skills to help us excel in our lives.”

Watch Mwangi’s galvanizing speech above, given to a raucous convention center full of Generation Kenya graduates. They were gathered for a commencement ceremony on July 29 in Nairobi. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, also spoke at the ceremony.

Started by the McKinsey Social Initiative, an independent not for profit, Generation Kenya has prepared more than 1,500 young people for jobs in sales and retail. More than 90 percent of graduates are now employed by partner companies. In addition to McKinsey, Generation Kenya is supported by USAID.

Mwangi and his cohort represent continued progress toward Generation’s goal of placing 50,000 youth in jobs in Kenya—and 1 million young people globally. By December, Generation will have reached 10,000 youth through its Kenya program and others in India, Mexico, Spain, and the United States.