Job creation big challenge for new regime

Monday September 4 2017

Job seekers

Jobseekers camp at County hall, Nairobi, on May 26, 2017 with their certificates. Creating real job opportunities is a complex task. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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In the run up to the election, many promises were made by the political aspirants.

One of the most frequently voiced was creation of jobs.

Lack of job opportunities is one of the biggest agonies and dilemmas facing Kenyans at every level: Rural, urban, domestic and personal.

In turn, it is one of the incoming government’s greatest challenge.

The 15-24 years age bracket comprises around 10 million youth, who make up 20 per cent of the population.

And 11 million Kenyans live below the poverty line of Sh197 per day, translating to a fifth of population.

Unsurprisingly, many in that age bracket are the same ones who live below that poverty level.

Kenya has a fairly mixed track record in getting its people out of the poverty trap: 30 an hour as opposed to 66 an hour in Tanzania.

And as has been experienced many times over, creating real sustainable jobs or gainful employment opportunities is a much more demanding exercise, especially as the level of economic development gathers pace.

Recently, President John Magufuli of Tanzania promised the creation of a million more jobs in his country by pumping public funds into 25 dormant operations that had been requisitioned by the State.

But that is easier said than done. Why did they fail in the first place?

In a number of cases, will the causes of such failures be repeated?

Secondly, as seen around the world many times, parastatal operations risk a higher degree of financial and operational inefficiency and eventual failure.

One needs to stand back from the jobs aspect per se and look at it as part and parcel of an overall picture and complexion of the country.

We need to view it from the perspective of improving the overall environment in Kenya for economic and commercial activity and for investment and business opportunities.

When that happens, then the creation of sustainable, gainful occupations will follow.

That is something which some politicians, especially, tend to overlook.

Often, it is the big figures that attract the publicity.

But it must be emphasised that job creation, whether formal or informal, comes from all of the diverse range of small as well as large activities.

Creation of an environment for commercial interaction and economic activity is, therefore, a key priority.

The notion of just promising, or even announcing, more jobs is a simplistic and misguided one.


The other major consideration or factor is the mismatch of this supply of jobseekers to the types of demand.

Yes, there is the supply in terms of the volumes of people needing gainful opportunity.

Many of those youth are looking for, or aspiring to get, gainful opportunities.

But is there enough awareness all round as to where the actual opportunities are or are not?

In other words, the brutal reality of the actual market place is often overlooked.

If one was to relate that to what many aspire to be, one will see there are too many of our youth wanting to have a job in an area where there is an oversupply.

The way forward for the government is for it to have a policy that has the input of the relevant interested bodies, both private and public.

Secondly, it has the implementing oversight that can act without the hindrance of the impediments in the bureaucratic system.

This is a county government challenge as well.

A particularly difficult part of it is actually reaching into the informal mass of people who are easily bypassed in our social system.

Creating real job opportunities is a complex task.

They come from the real need to have them, which is a result of the physical demand for those jobs.

Mr Shaw is an economic and public policy analyst: [email protected]