MPs want interns in public service offered State jobs


Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Some 5,560 interns contracted across ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) may get State jobs or have their contracts extended if Parliament approves a push by a section of lawmakers.

Nyando MP Jared Okelo has petitioned the State to consider hiring the interns or extending their contracts, a majority of which are set to lapse by December.

In a petition to Public Service, Gender and Youth Affairs secretary Margaret Kobia, the lawmaker says the interns have offered “exemplary service” to warrant employment or extension of their one-year contracts.

Ms Kobia is expected to respond to the petition this week as the MPs seek to ease the high rate of youth unemployment.

The interns, who were contacted in October last year and January, are slightly above 10 per cent of 42,132 university and college graduates who applied for the positions.

Public Service Commission attributed the low absorption of the applicants to a cash crunch at a time the Treasury froze fresh recruitment across the MDAs.

“In view of the service rendered to the public by the interns, could the government consider renewing the 2019/20 internship engagement or absorbing the interns permanently in the public service,” said Mr Okelo in the petition.

The petition is, however, likely to face opposition from the Treasury, which put on ice plans by the MDAs to increase their staff count.

Ministries and State departments account for 3,151 of the interns, followed by parastatals at 1,948 while public universities employed 340. The remaining 121 interns are spread across constitutional and statutory commissions. All MDAs must now seek approval from the Treasury before hiring new staff or interns — a move aimed at taming the runaway public service wage bill, which jumped 4.4 per cent to Sh830 billion in the year ended June from Sh795 billion in 2018/19.

The State rolled out the internship programme last year to equip graduates with relevant job market skills.