The impact of private sector internship and training on urban youth in Kenya

Maddalena Honorati


This paper evaluates the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the Government of Kenya with support from the World Bank’s Kenya Youth Empowerment Project (KYEP) training and internship pilot programme for vulnerable youths between the ages of 17 and 29 years old who were out of school and/or had no permanent job in the previous year. It finds it has had overall significant positive results but the lack of effect on the probability of starting up a new business, being self-employed or working for a family business suggests that training alone is not sufficient to foster self-employment. To the author’s knowledge, it is the first impact evaluation based on experimental design of this type of program in Africa or in a country with limited capacity.

The evaluation uses a randomised experiment to assess the impact of: (i) the two‐week life skills training component of the program and (ii) the full six‐month program offering a combination of different types of classroom‐based training including life skills training, general business training, and sector‐specific skills training and 12 weeks of internships in a private firm in one of the six sectors identified in the Kenya national development strategy as a main driver of growth. The analysis is based on survey data collected before the program started (July 2012) and 15 months after the program ended (July 2014).

Key findings:

  • The programme successfully placed youths in paid jobs and contributed to an increase of 15 percent in current employment among male participants.
  • Financial behaviour: increased probability of participants’ opening a bank account and accumulating savings (for females).
  • Profile of youth sample: the programmes benefited more educated youths than initially expected with 75 percent engaged in economic activity at baseline. It reached mostly tertiary rather than secondary dropouts: 53 percent has some tertiary education compared to 18 percent who had not yet completed secondary education.
  • While the life skills training component had no significant impact, the overall training and internship program had positive and significant effects on participants’ employment outcomes and in their access to training courses and internships.
  • For males: substantial positive impact on the probability of having paid wage employment with a written contract, which also translated into a significant increase in the number of hours worked per week; significant change in wage earnings for older males (24 years old+).
  • For females: positive effects on the probability of having a paid job after graduating; increased labour earnings by KES 9,600 a month. Specifically, female interns placed in the tourism sector had better employment and earnings outcomes than those placed in other sectors. These results are indicative as a higher number of female participates did not continue in the end of line survey sample.


Programmes focused on fostering self-employment and entrepreneurship need to be complemented with measures that are critical to supporting small-scale entrepreneurship, such as access to start-up capital, counseling, networking services, and/or micro credit.


Honorati, M. (2015). The impact of private sector internship and training on urban youth in Kenya. Policy Research Working Paper 7404. Washington DC, USA: World Bank.