LETTERS: Tackle unemployment with sound policies

Jobseekers in Nairobi
Jobseekers in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The government has already identified the Big Four Agenda that will guide President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy term but unfortunately there are no clear laws and policy frameworks to address the aching problem of joblessness.

Kenya has a young population that continues to increase rapidly – an increase that is being felt in the labour market as more young people seek jobs. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says that 80 percent of jobless people in Kenya are between the ages of 15-34.

With the proliferation of universities and tertiary institutions in the recent years, more graduates are each year channeled in an already overwhelmed job market. So frustrating is the situation that a recent survey by the British Council found out that nearly one out of every four young people graduating contemplates migrating to Europe and America in search of better fortunes.

This is because they are disillusioned by the jobs they cannot get in the country and shrinking opportunities to venture in other areas to pursue their ambitions, grow and take charge of their destiny.

As Kenya rolls out its development agenda in the coming year, there is need to take joblessness as a huge social economic problem facing the nation, develop and implement appropriate policies, strategies and programmes that integrates the youth in the economy.


Although the ‘Big Four’ socio-economic development vehicle is a great idea, the role of the youth in it is not clearly defined. The manufacturing pillar is set to create 800,000 jobs annually, but what has not been mentioned is how many of those will to go to the youth.

He has also not mentioned how many youth-owned and youth-led organizations are to be considered in affordable housing, affordable healthcare and food security pillars in the ‘Big Four’. This is a grey area that needs to be addressed if the agenda is to deliver decent jobs and livelihoods for young people.

Also, there is need to carry out a survey and consolidate data on the youth situation in this country assessing their skills, education and entrepreneurship. This will enable the government make good decisions on how it can involve its youth population on the economic growth.It is lamentable to see foreign companies get contracts to build infrastructure and hire foreigners for jobs that require basic skills, which our youth can do.

When negotiating for these big contracts, it would be plausible to consider what services should be procured from locally youth registered businesses.

The government must put in place policies and mechanisms that prioritise youth employment. It is also important to prioritize and integrate youth in the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs), supplementary budgets, county budgets and policy directives at the county levels.

This will help to put county government excesses in checks and follow up on the socio-economic agenda of the county and see how well it is aligned to youth development.

With county governments now functional, more resources should be channeled towards developing well-equipped youth training centers in the devolved units based on the county skill needs.

Creating economic hubs in the counties will address unsustainable urbanization in Kenya, which is characterized by proliferation of informal settlements, as many unemployed youths migrate from rural counties into the city in search of employment.

The national government should join hands with county governments to open up the interior of Kenya for development. Even more is the fact that county governments should partner with the private sector to speed up the development of socio-economic structures at the counties.

It is crucial to map and invest in sectors with high potential to create job. Some of the sectors with great potential for job creation include manufacturing, agriculture and the service sector.The government should invest in agriculture especially small-scale farmers who include the youth– and make the sector a creator of good jobs.

A significant number of young Kenyans are employed in the informal sector, and work under deplorable conditions. Programmes should be set up to nurture and grow the enterprises. Also, there is need for investment in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and advanced manufacturing – emerging as the backbone of the Kenyan work force.

Raphael Obonyo, via email.