East African Breweries Limited (EABL) has launched an apprenticeship programme for female university students across East Africa taking courses in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to give them a learning opportunity.
Female students from technical universities and colleges will be the beneficiaries of the programme, which is also designed to expose them to the supply world in East Africa’s largest manufacturer and get them interested in working in it.
Announcing the launch of the new initiative in Kenya, KBL Managing Director Jane Karuku said EABL was engaging the gear in elevating and empowering female talent, because the company acknowledges that a diverse culture is intrinsic to the success the business. The announcement follows the International Women’s Day celebrations, marked by a host of activities across EABL.
Karuku said: “At EABL, we are always striving towards achieving gender balance by making deliberate decisions that are aimed at that. Last year, women constituted a third of our workforce here and I am pleased to say that the number has gone up to around 40% this year. We remain committed towards this and it is for this reason that we are pushing the empowerment agenda further. We recognise the need to nurture and grow young talent by creating opportunities such as the STEM programme as this is part of our responsibility to the community.”
EABL group HR Director Ednah Otieno said: “Investing in talent has been close to EABL’s people agenda for a very long time but we are particularly proud to be leading in the specially-tailored programme that empowers young, female talent to address workplace inequality. We are looking to roll-out the same initiative in our Ugandan and Tanzanian subsidiaries.”
Companies have in recent years been challenged to take practical steps to empower women and to show their commitment to the push for gender parity by making available equal opportunities for both men and women.
In the field of STEM, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) reported last year that there remains a huge imbalance in the participation of women in comparison to men, particularly in higher career levels.
In the engineering field, for example, women are taking up one in four of the slots in engineering courses, with scholars noting that the number of women earning STEM degrees declines as they move through the educational ladder.
There are similar trends in the medical field as well: available data indicates that only one in three doctors is a woman. Slightly more than a third of the 6,664 doctors and dentists registered with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) by 2018 are women.
Further data by UNESCO reveals that the number of women researchers is also low in other science fields in Kenya, including natural sciences (14%), and engineering and technology (11%).
EABL launched its STEM apprenticeship programme in Kenya by hosting STEM students from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and the Technical University of Kenya at the Tusker Brewery, where they got an opportunity to see the manufacturing process and also to interact with staff.
The visit by the students marked the start of the two-year apprenticeship programme for female STEM students, as a platform to create opportunities for female students and also equip them with hands-on skills that prepare them for the job market.
In addition to the STEM programme, EABL also has another running initiative dubbed ‘Spirited Women’ spearheaded by Mrs Karuku. The initiative was launched as a means of inspiring and empowering young professionals within the organisation.