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Tackling Unemployment

16 Dec

According to statistics from multiple sources, about 70 per cent of the young working class in Kenya, or almost 10 million people, are unemployed.The World Bank estimates that approximately 800,000 Kenyans join the labour market each year, and only 50,000 succeed in getting professional jobs. Not surprisingly, the high level of unemployment has been blamed for escalating incidents of crime and insecurity in the country.An employers lobby plans to hold a labour summit in a bid to find ways of addressing the high unemployment rate in the country.The summit, scheduled for next year, will also seek to find ways of tackling growing insecurity, which the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) believes is a result of having many disillusioned job-seekers. The summit will also involve workers’ representatives.

The Federation of Kenya Employers was created in 1959 to represent employers’ interests, both locally and internationally. It has a membership of 1,500 across the country. Amongst its objectives for the 2015 conference the FKE would next year engage institutions of higher learning with a view of finding the root cause of the skills mismatch that exists among graduates. The idea is for FKE to put its case to training institutions with the aim of ensuring that the curriculum meets the expectations of employers.

In line with efforts to tackle unemployment has seen the Kenyan parliament debate over The Strategic Youth Industries Bill which seeks to put Kenya on the path many developed countries travelled. The Bill seeks to establish the Strategic Youth Industries Board and have the government commit at least 0.1 per cent of its annual revenue to the board to establish industries that should be profitable, sustainable and provide employment to Kenyans in the ratio of Sh100,000:1 employee. This means if the board was to spend Sh100 million in setting up a given industry, the industry should employ a minimum of 1,000 employees and of these, 80 per cent should be young people to solve unemployment. Before establishment of any industry, the board will submit to Parliament a comprehensive proposal, giving a thorough study of the target markets; capital, profitability and employment projections. It is only after debate and approval of the proposal by Parliament that the board can establish the proposed industry. This oversight mechanism over the board by Parliament will ensure none of the proposed industry will be run down as has been the case for some public entities in the past.

The Bill demands that every industry to be set up be privatised within five years. This will see the exit of the industry from the Strategic Youth Industries framework into a listed company, therefore posing a performance target for the board since for any successful privatisation, the industry should have posted good profits over the five years.

The Kenyan government must come to realise that entrepreneurship is a skill not owned by everyone and some people are comfortable being employees rather than beginning their own ventures and the economy must also cater to the needs of these people.  Essentially the bill will cater for both the entrepreneurs and those who seek employment in various sectors of the economy.






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