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Number Of Jobless Kenyans Grow As Many Give Up On Job Hunting

Job seekers wait to hand in their documents at County Hall, Nairobi, on May 26, 2017. File | Nation Media Group


The number of Kenyan graduates fruitlessly searching for jobs after leaving school has increased even as many more give up on the job hunt, reflecting a tough economic environment.

A new report by the World Bank has shown that a fifth of individuals aged 26 in 2019 were either not actively looking for jobs or actively job-searching or technically unemployed, an increase from 17 percent in 2015.

The report, Social Protection and Jobs Public Expenditure Review’, indicates the difficulties youths graduating from college face when searching for decent jobs, with official data showing that formal employment where graduates can ply their trade has been declining.

“The school-to-work transition among young Kenyans continues well into their 20s and has become progressively more difficult since 2015,” said the World Bank.

The Treasury has noted Kenya Kwanza’s agenda is geared towards an economic turnaround and inclusive growth and aims to increase investments in at least five sectors that will have the largest impact on the economy and households.

These sectors, said Treasury Cabinet secretary Njuguna Ndung’u, include agricultural transformation, micro, small and medium enterprises, housing and settlement, healthcare and digital superhighway and creative industry.

“Special focus will be placed on increased employment, more equitable distribution of income, social security while also expanding the tax revenue base, and increased foreign exchange earnings,” he said in the 2023 Budget Policy Statement (BPS).

The World Bank noted that in addition to creating more jobs, Kenya will need to improve the quality of the jobs it creates, with a lot of Kenyans eking out a living in the informal sector where the earnings are little and erratic.

By the end of 2021, data from the national statistician shows that there were 18,332,800 employed Kenyans, an increase from 17,406,700 in 2020 when there was a dip in employment due to the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

A big chunk of these jobs, 15,261,800 or 82.3 per cent, were in the informal sector where workers do not have job security or receive such benefits as medical insurance or pensions.

A household survey done jointly last year by the Central Bank of Kenya, FSD Kenya and the KNBS showed that less than 10 percent of Kenyan adults have permanent full-time jobs, underscoring the high poverty and dependency levels in an economy where the government is struggling to tackle an acute unemployment problem.

The report shows that 25.2 percent of Kenyans depend on others for survival while 28.5 percent work as casuals.

When former President Uhuru Kenyatta released the Big Four agenda in 2018, the goal, which is also captured in Vision 2030, was to create 6.5 million new jobs and increase the share of formal employment from 13 percent in 2017 to 40 percent in 2022.

Economist David Ndii, the chairman of President William Ruto’s Council of Economic Advisers, has blamed the previous administration’s obsession with infrastructure projects for crowding out the private sector from the credit market, resulting in the shrinkage of jobs.

Dr Ndii noted that the current regime would steer away from the domestic credit market, a move that would then allow firms and households to borrow at low-interest rates to start or expand their businesses.

Economic policies pursued in the later years of President Kenyatta’s administration helped benefit wealthy Kenyans the most, the World Bank disclosed on Tuesday.

The World Bank in another report capturing Kenya’s economic health reckons that the gap between the rich and poor is unchanged from 2015, adding that it narrowed between 2005 and 2015.

It says the structure of Kenya’s economy has lately failed to lift millions from poverty, turning the spotlight on the Kenyatta regime.

Kenya had delivered average economic growth of more than five per cent in the past decade

“Though economic growth contributed significantly to poverty reduction in Kenya, growth has become less pro-poor in recent years,” the World Bank said in the report.

-The Nation

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