The Labour Ministry is setting up an electronic platform to keep track of Kenyan migrant workers, amid a jump in the numbers moving abroad in search of greener pastures and abuse cases by employers in the Middle East.
The database will help the government identify the exact number of Kenyans working abroad, their places of work and skills. It will also show when they change employers or countries of work.
Labour CS Simon Chelugui said the ministry will upgrade its labour migration management system under the National Employment Authority, which will allow for automated services such as job seeker registration, local and overseas job applications, registration and approval of private recruitment agencies.
It will also allow the government to register and keep track of immigrant labourers within Kenya, to weed out those working without approvals and work permits.
“The challenge we are currently facing is lack of a comprehensive labour migration management system, that can track all the activities of our migrant workers,” said Mr Chelugui.
“We would be interested to partner with ICT professionals in the development of this integrated system.”
A rising number of Kenyan youth are seeking jobs abroad to escape the high level of unemployment in the country. About 1.2 million Kenyan youth join the labour market every year.
This number has grown following the Covid-19 pandemic, pushing many youth to seek employment opportunities elsewhere, with the Gulf States a favourite destination.
The Kenyan government is already using Musaned, an online system used by the Saudi government to register and manage domestic workers.
The system is expected to ensure decent work, adequate income and social protection of the workers. It will also show labour demand in identified countries.
While the Gulf countries offer employment opportunities, there remain concerns about the treatment of workers there by employers.
The government is yet to pass the Labor Migration Management Bill 2021 to protect workers abroad and regulate the private recruitment sector, and challenges on enforcement of the existing legislation still exist.
The ministry is also currently upgrading the Kenya Labour Market Information System to facilitate mining data from other systems and generate up to date labour market indicators.