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UNEMPLOYMENT

Export labour to end joblessness

Many developing countries are using this strategy to address the problem.

In Summary
  • It hurts deeply to see politicians take advantage of desperate unemployed youth to achieve their selfish interests.
  • It is even more hurting for the thousands of youth like me who graduated more than five years ago and are yet to be absorbed into any organisation.
People in search of jobs.
UNEMPLOYMENT People in search of jobs.
Image: REUTERS

Our politicians always promise to create jobs once elected, it’s a campaign strategy. Jubilee won the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections on that promise. Launching the party manifesto in 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto promised to create 1.3 million jobs for the youth annually; this is yet to be fulfilled. 

The same promise is being made by leading presidential candidates, only that some have slightly altered the strategy so the youth can forget the broken promises from less than three years ago.

It hurts deeply to see politicians take advantage of desperate unemployed youth to achieve their selfish interests. It is even more hurting for the thousands of youth like me who graduated more than five years ago and are yet to be absorbed into any organisation. A large number of graduates feel wasted and cheated.

The government, for a long time, has been banking on industries to create jobs. Unfortunately, nearly all public industries and a good number of their private counterparts have collapsed, mainly due to poor management and corruption. With intense global competition, Kenya will soon have no industry.

Government youth employment programmes such Kazi Kwa Vijana and NYS have been riddled with corruption and proved to be unsustainable solutions to youth unemployment. The government must find sustainable solutions to youth unemployment.

The problem not only threatens Kenya’s economic stability but also its social and political stability. Based on the census report released this year, more than 5.3 million Kenyan youth are jobless. It is estimated that 800,000 Kenyan youth enter the job market annually. Consequently, the rate of youth unemployment in Kenya stands at 38.9 percent. 

Kenya can learn a lot from the Philippines, which has one of the best labour export models globally.

Labour export is a strategy that many developing countries are using to address the problem. A report released by the World Bank in December 2019 indicates that Kenya has not explored labour export.

Kenya can learn a lot from the Philippines, which has one of the best labour export models globally. The programme was launched in the 1970s when the country was facing escalating unemployment rates. Currently, more than eight million Philippines are actively working in 200 countries globally, with annual inflow remittance of more than $17 billion.

Labour export in the Philippines accounts for nearly 15 percent of the country’s GDP, compared to Kenya’s, which is less than five percent. Importantly, the success of the programme is linked to good planning and implementation. The Philippines created the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, which develops markets for overseas workers, recruits workers, secures favourable employment terms for Filipinos working abroad, and regulates private recruitment agencies. Other countries that are doing better in terms of labour export in Africa are Egypt, Nigeria, and Ghana.

According to the diaspora remittance report by the World Bank in 2019, besides the USA and Europe, East African countries offer the best opportunities for labour export. Uganda and Tanzania fall under the first five biggest sources of remittance to Kenya, besides Canada and Australia. China is the least source of diaspora remittance inflow.

It is possible to end youth unemployment if we think outside the box. All we need are objective and non-political policies.