2018, Blog, english, Kenya

Youth unemployment & technology

According to a survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), seven million Kenyans are unemployed. Out of these, 1.4 million have been desperately looking for work. The rest have given up on job hunting, with some opting to go back for further studies.

The survey, released paints a grim picture of the country’s unemployment levels, while shattering the 40 per cent unemployment rate myth. According to the survey, up to 19.5 million Kenyans are active in the labour force, majority of them in low-cadre, poor-paying jobs. Shattering myth still, this puts Kenya’s unemployment rate at 7.4 per cent, a significant departure from a high of 40 per cent that has been bandied around.

In 2016, there were about 25 million Kenyans in the working-age bracket of between 15 and 64 years. Out of these, 78 per cent were economically active. Over half of the country’s working-age population has primary school level of education. The working-age population is expected to increase to 28.5 million by 2020. About 4.2 million working-age Kenyans were either in college or secondary school, and not active in rolling the wheel of the economy. The report shows that 5.6 million working-age Kenyans were economically inactive. “The main two reasons of inactivity were school attendance and family responsibilities, accounting for 73.8 per cent and 13.1 per cent respectively,” “Considering the prime age of 25 to 54 years, family responsibility and sickness or injury were the two main reasons for inactivity,” it added.

A new survey also paints a grim picture of growing youth unemployment, with a huge chunk of the population aged between 20 and 24 years not engaged in any work or business. Nine in every 10 unemployed Kenyans are 35 years and below. “The largest unemployment rate in the age cohort 20–24 at 19.2 per cent.”

Youth unemployment has been described as a ticking bomb, with frustrated young men and women susceptible to drugs, prostitution, or even being lured into terrorism. President Uhuru Kenyatta is banking on the manufacturing sector for job-creation. The sector is one of the pillars of Uhuru’s Big Four agenda. The other pillars are universal healthcare, food security, and low-cost housing. However, a poor economy has seen companies shed jobs in the past five years even as the economy has averaged a growth of five per cent. Since 2016, more than 20 companies have either folded and shipped out or simply downsized, leaving thousands jobless.

The situation worsened last year when the economy slowed down due to an extended electioneering period, reduced credit uptake by the private sector, and a crippling drought. The 2015/16 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey showed that even for the many Kenyans who were employed, their skills were not fully being utilized, with graduates increasingly taking jobs that could easily be done by Form Four leavers. 3.7 million or 20.4 per cent of the employed persons in the working-age population were under-employed, meaning they were available to work for more hours but were not given the opportunity. Those mostly underemployed were aged between 15 and 19 years.

GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION TO CURB YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT.

1.Through the use of technology
2.Through AGPO ( access to government procurement opportunities for the youth)

1.USE OF TECHNOLOGY

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology advertised to recruit thousands of youths for an online work. ICT cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru asked the youth to sign up for online work training that his ministry was to conduct in various institutions across the country. In a press statement, Mr. Mucheru announced that the ministry of ICT will roll out an introductory training for new online workers that will see 10,000 youths acquire skills to earn a living through the internet. Mr. Mucheru urged eligible young people to log onto www.ajiradigital.go.ke and sign up for the available 10,000 slots. “The one-week residential training provided free of charge at various centers in Nairobi, Nakuru, Meru, Kisumu and Mombasa following a partnership agreement between the Ministry of ICT, Kenya Private Sector Alliance and Rockefeller Foundation who provided a USD 1 million financing support,” said Mr. Mucheru, adding that the training is part of the government’s broader strategy to address youth unemployment.

More than 40,000 Kenyans already work and earn a living through various online platforms but the demand for online workers continue to grow. The low awareness levels and lack of skills to navigate the online workspace has contributed to the low uptake of online work by Kenyans despite this sector having tremendous potential to address youth unemployment. “This training intended to bridge the skills gap and increase the confidence and employ ability of new workers as they navigate the online work space.”

The CS disclosed plans by his ministry to engage other government agencies and the private sector with a view to offloading some of their work onto local digital platforms that can be accessed and completed by Kenyan online workers. He expressed optimism that the 10,000 youth that will be trained will help to mentor many more to take up online work as a career. The CS urged the private sector and other international organizations to come forward to support the training of more Kenyans on online work adding that Kenya has the potential to provide thousands of online workers and become the freelancing hub of the world.

2.AGPO

This is access to government procurement opportunities for the youth, on this the government urges the youth aged 35 and below to form companies and register with the ministry of finance where they are issued with a certificate for AGPO.

After the formation of youthful companies there are tenders advertised by government and issued through application and prequalification for the jobs.

The government has set aside 30% of its procurement opportunities for the youth.

 

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