Kenya aspires to acquire a middle–income country status offering high quality of life as envisaged in the Kenya Vision 2030. Attainment of this noble aspiration is however hinged on our Country’s ability to create sustainable employment and livelihood to our people. It is therefore important to develop and implement employment policies, programmes and strategies that will enable the unemployed, especially the youth to access gainful employment
According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) quarterly labour force reports, the total labour force by March 2020 was 18. 7 million, with informal sector accounting for 83 percent of which (35.4%) are found within the urban areas while (65%) are found in the rural areas .The Kenya private sector employs 3.19 Million out of whom 2.32 million are paid employees with 162.7 being contributing family workers accounting for 16.2 percent of all employment. On the other hand, public sector employed 865.2 thousand accounting for 4.7 of all employment. By the end of March 2020, the overall Unemployment rate was 13.7 % with youth between 20-24 accounting for 12.5 %, youth between 25-29 accounting for 7.5 % and youth age between 30-34 accounting for 4.8 percent. This clearly reinforces the fact that unemployment is still a youth Challenge in our country.
While close to 1 million youth join the labour market every year, our economy is only able to accommodate 800 thousands .This is the reason why my Ministry is actively negotiating with other countries and signing bilateral labour agreement so that our unemployed youth can get opportunity to migrate to other countries to live, work and support their families back home. By the end of 2019, diaspora remittances stood at 279.9 Billion shillings annually, it is for this reason that we consider labour migration a worthy investment for our country.
Kenyans are increasingly seeking employment opportunities beyond our borders. Currently, it is approximated that over 4 million Kenyans live and work in the diaspora in 40 countries .As of April this year 2,035,991 Kenyan were registered with Various Kenya Missions abroad. The semi-skilled and low-skilled workers have dominated Kenyan migration to the Gulf where most of the migrants are recruited as domestic workers, construction labourers, cleaners, hospitality workers, security officers, and taxi drivers.
It is estimated that there are 100,000 Kenyan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia with 40,361 Kenyans migrating between March 2019 and March 2020 to work in the country as domestic workers. It is also estimated that there are 6,072 Kenyan migrant workers in Bahrain, about 32,000 migrant workers in Qatar and 28,000 in the United Arabs Emirates. Cross-border migration has been enhanced by business opportunities in the neighbouring countries with Uganda and Tanzania accounting for the bulk of Kenyan migrant.
While Kenyans are encouraged to seek employment across our borders, they are cautioned to be on high alert to the existence of some dishonest persons and agencies out to exploit them. The Government continues to crack down on these dishonest private employment agencies. Kenyans are however, cautioned to seek the necessary information and guidance on foreign employment from the National Employment Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before they enter into foreign contracts of employment.
Majority of the youth graduating from our training institution lack exposure to work environment. This continues to disadvantage them in pursuit of their careers. In order to address this challenge, the Government has designed a National Internship programme whose aim is to expose the youth to the world of work. The necessary framework for implementation of internship programme both in the public and private sector has also been developed. I call upon the private sector to support this noble cause.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) Employment Services Convention, 1948 (No. 88), which Kenya has ratified requires member states to establish free employment service offices both at the national and regional levels. In line with this convention, The Kenya Government established the National Employment Authority (NEA) in April 2016 to enhance the institutional framework in employment promotion. Currently, the Authority has a network of 30 Employment Office spread across 28 counties.
Since its formation the Authority has achieved considerable milestones in employment promotion such as placement of over 200,000 jobseekers in employment locally and abroad, designed and is implementing a pre-departure training and orientation programme, negotiated two bilateral labour agreement with United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In order to enhance Public Employment Services, the Authority intends to re-engineer and transform the existing employment offices into job centres. The Centres will act as a one- stop shop on all matters relating to employment. The services to be offered in the centres include: Registration and placement of job seekers in employment and internship; provision of pre-employment and soft skills (How to write a CV, Interviewing and presentation skills) for Employability, provision of job market information; career guidance and counselling, pre-departure training and orientation for outbound migrant workers. Business and entrepreneurship programmes will also be undertaken for those who wish to pursue business ventures. The Eldoret Model Employment Promotion Centre is one of such regional centres to be established in the country.
The Government will continue to enhance the capacity of the Authority to develop and implement employment promotion strategies. Further the Government will continue to pursue the employment creation strategies in line with the Employment Policy and Strategy for Kenya
The uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus disease in various sectors of the economy has led businesses owners to introduce measures geared towards ensuring their businesses remain afloat. Some of these measures have led to salary cuts for employees; temporary layoffs; sending employees on indefinite unpaid leave; and redundancy of workers. The informal sector workers are hardest hit by the effects of the containment measures where markets where most informal sectors operators are based, are experiencing low customer turn out as people avoid crowded places while others have been closed down. This puts a heavy responsibility on the My Ministry to come up with measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on labour and employment sector.
The Government through our President announced a number of measures to mitigate against Job loses such as Tax rebates, VAT refund, reduction of Turnover tax, the Kazi Mtaani initiative, Cash transfer to the Vulnerable groups among others.
To further protect the labour and employment sector, My Ministry has put in place measures to mitigate the effect of the pandemic. These measure include the signing on MOU between the Ministry and Social Partners, which provided for suspension of negotiation of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs); suspension of implementation of concluded CBAs whose effective date falls within the COVID-19 period; review of some terms negotiated in the existing CBAs; and freezing of wage increments during the period of the pandemic. Other Measures put in place include: The proposed monthly cash transfer to cushion those who have lost Jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic especially those in the informal and low paid workers in the formal sector; development of Employee Assistance & Wellness Programs, including programs for support on psychosocial issues at workplaces to be managed by Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health Services (DOSHS); and provision of adequate information and training on occupational safety and health.
My Ministry has also contribute in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, through the production of Face Masks and Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) by NITA, which we have distributed country wide. We have also continued to sensitize workers on the covid-19 infections and protection, through training of occupational safety and health committees at workplaces and carrying out surveillance of workplaces for compliance with OSH and Government directives on COVID-19.
Last but not the least, a toll-free line (0800211168) and a dedicated email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) have been established to enhance reporting and resolution of employment and labour related complaints.
My Ministry remain committed to support all the members of our community; the youth, the vulnerable and the new vulnerable especially those who have recently lost their source of livelihood.