CRISIS

Resolve dearth of skills and jobs

We must also prepare the youth for the technology intensive jobs of the future.

In Summary
  • According to employers, youth in entry level jobs lacked integrity, numeracy, communication, sales and marketing skills.
  • A national qualifications framework for key subsectors in the service sector is a critical starting point.
A Jua Kali artisan inside his furniture workshop in Nyeri town
INFORMAL SECTOR: A Jua Kali artisan inside his furniture workshop in Nyeri town
Image: FILE

The economy grew at 6.3 percent in 2018. One would expect that with healthy economic growth comes decent jobs. However, the rate of job growth in 2018 was estimated at three percent.

But the slow pace of job creation is not the only reason politicians and policymakers should lose sleep every night. A new study by the East Africa Institute of the Aga Khan University reveals that youth who hold entry level jobs lack critical skills and competences.

The study was conducted in 24 counties, which represent all of Kenya’s eight regions and are home to over 85 per cent of Kenya’s formal sector business establishments.

Fifteen sectors, comprising agriculture, wholesale and retail, construction, health and ICT, which account for 90 per cent of jobs in both formal and informal sector, were included in the survey. About 6,300 youth aged 18-30 and 2,300 employers were interviewed.

Youth in entry level jobs, in formal and informal sectors, reported that besides technical skills, they lacked computing skills, socio-emotional skills, and life skills such as time management, communication and interpersonal skills.

According to employers, youth in entry level jobs lacked integrity, numeracy, communication, sales and marketing skills.

The study shows that youth don’t possess the skills and capabilities for the jobs that exist today, which are dominated by wholesale and retail. Hence, our efforts in training and skills development must consider the structure of our economy and prepare the youth to thrive in a job market dominated by the service sector.

The study revealed that level of education, soft skills and work experience were critical requirements for getting entry level jobs in the formal sector. For the informal sector, soft skills and hands-on experience were more important to securing entry level jobs. Moreover, 30 percent of youth cited low pay as a barrier to entry level jobs; 47 percent said lack of experience was a barrier; 50 percent cited corruption.

Where are the entry level jobs? Data contained in the Census of Enterprises published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, show that 84 percent of businesses are in the service sector, with 32 percent in the wholesale and retail subsector.

According to the study, 82 percent of the youth surveyed were employed in the service sector: Retail, wholesale, accommodation, transport, finance, education and food services.

Wholesale and retail accounted for 31 percent of entry level jobs held by youth. Primary and secondary sectors accounted for about 18 percent of entry level jobs held by youth.

 

The study reveals gender differentiation in the participation of men and women in entry level jobs. Women dominated entry level jobs in education, health and social work, accommodation and food services. Conversely, men dominated entry-level jobs in ICT, construction, agriculture, fishing, water and sanitation, and extractives.

The study shows that youth don’t possess the skills and capabilities for the jobs that exist today, which are dominated by wholesale and retail. Hence, our efforts in training and skills development must consider the structure of our economy and prepare the youth to thrive in a job market dominated by the service sector.

A national qualifications framework for key subsectors in the service sector is a critical starting point. But we must also prepare youth for the technology intensive jobs of the future; defined by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.