The government plans to train and export at least one million workers in the next two years in a labour migration programme devised to ease unemployment in the country.
Cabinet Secretary for Labour and East African Affairs Phyllis Kandie said the National Industrial Training Authority will train the workers before they are shipped off to work abroad.
“There will be a well-planned system of promoting labour migration. The workers will receive pre-departure training before embarking on the jobs abroad,” said Ms Kandie when addressing the National Industrial Training Authority board.
According to the Labour CS, the programme borrows from a successful labour migration model employed in the Philippines.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that at least 10 million Filipinos work abroad and more than one million leave the country each year to seek work in other countries.
With remittances to the Philippines continuing to grow, labour migration has become a thrust for economic growth in the country, with many nations —including Kenya — seeking to replicate the model.
In justifying the programme, the Labour CS also cited the example of a Singaporean company that has been looking for Kenyan ship builders.
“Foreigners see what we have. We have skilled labour in this country and we want to scale that labour up not only for local consumption but also for international use. We don't want our youth languishing in the villages without work," said Ms Kandie.
The CS said industrial training and technology transfer are important parts of the national agenda.
"The youth are well-schooled but not quite skilled in technical training, and [the] National Industrial Training Authority will [help] in the training,” she said.
Meanwhile, the CS said her ministry was sending officials to the Middle East countries where there have been reports of mistreatment of Kenyan workers.
“Previously, we have been exporting labour but we have not been organised. We will now be sending labour officials to areas that Kenyans are getting challenges so that we can give first-hand support,” said Ms Kandie