LETTERS: Let’s be proactive in tackling unemployment
11 months ago, 7 Dec 17:57
It is reasonable to say that in Kenya we have an unemployment crisis. Various studies and analysis of data from respectable institutions that include government and NGOs paint quite an ugly picture. Government statistics show that Kenya’s economy generates more informal jobs than formal. Only that this information falls short of further analysing and breaking down those informal ones in terms of quality and sustainability. Still some of the formal jobs are not that decent and some may not last a while. United Nations Human Development Index indicates a 39 per cent unemployment rate. This is, however, challenged by several recent surveys that include one lately done by a research firm Trends and Insights for Africa that shows a higher rate. Nonetheless, even without depending on professional survey firms or NGOs one needs to just take a trip around the country in urban centres and see the level of economy and participation by the people. It could give an indicator of the challenges we are facing in getting many people in gainful employment. The level of idleness is quite significant and it is not unusual to find able bodied people just roaming around or spending the day chatting or waiting for manual jobs to emerge from somewhere. This is not also to forget the high level of young people looking even for illicit work that include prostitution just for lack of better alternative. It may look farfetched to mention some of these, but the reality is we have a joblessness crisis. A mere advertisement for any job opening both skilled and unskilled quite often attracts an inordinate number of applicants. This is in both government and private sectors. If you survey the joblessness brought about by layoffs and add those many adults who have never held decent jobs or quite seasonal ones, this can be just a starting point in understanding the problem. If you add to this the many people leaving schools at various points including those who graduate at universities to join the labour market then you realise that we have a significant problem. Yet still part of the cure which is thought to come from opening enterprises of various natures has proven to be far inadequate. In a country or region where many small enterprises or what we may call SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) close down after a short duration due to inability by the economy to absorb many of them due to limitations in demand and the high number of entry vis-à-vis potential to succeed based on the level of demand and capacity, then this is not just the solution. Worth noting is that Kenya’s population is growing to significant numbers and is estimated to exceed 70 million in the 2030s and over 100 million people in the 2050s. This is in line with trends in most of Africa, Middle East and parts of Asia. The challenge in Kenya also is we have a significant young population that needs jobs. Many Kenyans are below 35 ...
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