The demand for technical jobs in Kenya is increasing but supply is low leading to firms opting to import labour, Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani on Friday said.
The Labour CS said the demand for expertise in refrigeration, electrical, plumping, masonry, among other technical jobs is very high that the country cannot provide the required supply.
“We are saddened to hear that in some areas we are not able to raise these kinds of skills and we have to look beyond by importing labour from India and China. That should not happen,” Yatani said.
He spoke at the National Industrial Training Authority (Nita) in Mombasa where he toured as part of his familiarization tour of the Coast region.
Nita has been training students in technical areas such as refrigeration, plumbing, electrical engineering, masonry among other units.
Yatani appealed to county governments and industries to allocate more funds for training of their staff in the technical areas.
He said counties are the hubs for growth in the country and it is where there is more need for technical expertise because of the construction projects that is taking place in counties at the moment.
Allocating budgets for technical training will also improve the chances of employment of the youth in counties.
“Through that we are going to have a win-win situation because we are going to have skilled labour to go and work in those counties," he said.
“Additionally, we will also create jobs for very many Kenyan youth who are out there who do not have good formal education but have the brains and skills and are trainable,” he added.
Yatani said the male-female gender ratio that is enrolling to do technical courses is encouraging with an almost 50:50 ratio being achieved.
The CS said industries at the Coast have shown interest in recruiting technical job personnel by sponsoring a good number of employees to train at the National
“That is the way to go. The era for white collar jobs is gone. People have to realize that money is in the blue collar sector, particularly the technical areas,” the CS said.
A new survey has revealed an increase in student enrollment in technical vocational colleges, jumping to 35.8 per cent in 2017. The Economic survey 2018 also revealed a decline in university enrollment.
The government has been embarking in expanding TVET institution especially at the county level to meet the growing demand of technical skilled jobs.
Student enrolment in TVET institutions increased from 202,556 in 2016 to 275,139 in 2017. The same year also saw a 50.9 increase in registration of more of TVET institutions from 1,300 in 2016 to 1,962.
The placement of 500,000 students to technical colleges was launched on April 30. Education CS Amina Mohamed said the students did not make the cut off points to enter degree programmes at university. She said the placement will ensure the transition of students who did not qualify to join universities.
It will be carried out by Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) and is expected to be completed before June.