Kenya's apparel and textile sector is receiving a boost thanks to a new training scheme that is expected to train around 2,000 individuals for careers in the industry.

Around 117 Kenyan trainees recently cleared the course on technical and soft skills organised by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) East Africa Trade and Investment Hub's new apparel workforce skills development programme at three training centres in Nairobi, Jumvu and Mtwapa. Similar training is under way at other locations as well. 

The eight-week course is dedicated to apparel technical and soft skills development. Those that have just graduated are now interviewing for jobs with an expectation of nearly 100% placement in apparel factories, or are already employed. All graduating trainees from Jomvu, the first boot camp to complete, have already received appointment letters and commenced work at Mombasa Apparel EPZ Ltd.

Training is ongoing in additional locations, such as Nakuru, and more training centres are expected to open soon in Athi River and Nairobi. By the project end, the Hub expects to train 2,000 individuals for careers in the apparel sector.

The Hub's skills development programme is one of the elements under its East Africa Cotton, Textile and Apparel Expansion initiative, through which it is addressing the binding constraints that currently inhibit growth in the East Africa, apparel sector.

Besides workforce development, the initiative includes specific actions in the areas of enabling policy – specifically power tariffs, work permits, and movement of goods and capital – and the implementation of social, environmental and worker safety standards.

The Hub is implementing its East Africa Cotton, Textile and Apparel Expansion initiative in partnership with East African governments and the private sector, particularly the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), with whom the Hub has a Memorandum of Understanding.