Agency must invest in intensive research to end joblessness

Wednesday March 18 2020

Thousands of youth graduate from Generation Kenya, a programme facilitating youth empowerment, at KICC on March 15, 2019. The nature of existing types of unemployment must be determined. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


In May, the National Employment Authority was established to, among other functions, advise the national and county governments on formulation of employment policies and strategies.

As set out in the National Employment Authority Act 2016, it should also advise on policy matters concerning employment and develop methodologies for employment measurement, management and promotion.

There has been duplication of agencies, authorities and commissions in the past.

But separating matters employment from service as managing someone who is looking for a job and another who is serving are different in diverse aspects.

Intensive and factual research will be pivotal in producing the envisaged results. By that I mean a scientific process of fact-finding that is not influenced.

Their data sources should be primary and any secondary data must be subjected to internal validation.


The research design and sampling techniques must be independent of political, tribal, religious or any other form of selfish interest.

Influence will render the authority redundant in a very short duration.

The authority must seek to address some critical issues, basing their interventions on figures. For instance, the actual number of the unemployed in Kenya must be established.

Various projections on the rate of unemployment have been published before but the authority should verify the existing information and validate the metrics used in computing the rate.

Whether the rate is static or fixed, progressive, dynamic or continuous is a point of interest.

Creation of employment will require elaborate policies that will, in turn, need accurate data from the current economic dynamics without necessarily relying solely on what other agencies have established.


Skills mismatch and overproduction of labour must be addressed for achievements in the long term.

The authority must cast its advisory net wider to reach all actors in the economy, including education, manufacturing and public service.

Some advisory points will cut across all sectors and have far-reaching effects that it must not shy away from.

For instance, though without data, it is largely accurate to say that majority of Kenyans have picked a quarrel or got disappointed in the past months by a tailor, plumber, driver, mason, welder or carpenter who did not meet a timeline. Does this point to an undersupply of labour in the sectors?

Our society shows respect to degrees but, deep down, attaches value to earnings.

With the respect accorded to graduates, and thinking out loud, why can’t our universities and colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in plumbing or carpentry?

Do we not think this would kill two birds with one stone — respect to graduates and value to earnings?


In its guidance and counselling role, the authority must lead by example.

All employees and board members must be citizens of high integrity. Beginning with the right footing in terms of integrity will exude confidence in the authority by the many unemployed Kenyans.

The authority should coach and train potential employees on the role of integrity in retaining a job.

There are several persons forming statistics of the unemployed due to lack of integrity. Those who touch any job with an intention of getting rich quickly end up losing the job.

Lessons on integrity will help people to retain their jobs by performing as required and offering exemplary services.


In formulating employment policies, the authority must be innovative and provide policies that will cure the causes of unemployment and not the symptoms.

The nature of existing types of unemployment must be determined. For instance, the policies for addressing causes of structural unemployment will be different from those of addressing cyclical or frictional unemployment.

The extent of hidden unemployment, especially in the public sector, would also inform smart recommendations.

Intensive, factual and accurate research is an inevitable investment if the authority is to meet its mandate. It will also add value to the quality of governance accorded to it.

Mr Mugiira is a research analyst. [email protected]