• According to the World Bank, an estimated one in five young people in Kenya are jobless.
• Issue of youth unemployment in Kenya has been in existence for more than 20 years.
Unemployment in Kenya is real. Being unemployed endangers people’s mental health due to depression and despair. It’s like a thorn in their flesh.
Kenya is East Africa’s largest economy. Ironically, it has the highest number of unemployed young people in the region. According to the World Bank, an estimated one in five young people in Kenya are jobless.
The report shows that the unemployment rate in Kenya is three times higher than in neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania. Out of every 100 students who start primary school, only 68 transition to secondary school; and just six go to universities or tertiary institutions to learn the skills required to give the country an edge in an increasingly competitive world.
This, according to the Ministry of Education, translates to about 50,000 graduates every year. An Inter-University Council of East African study shows that 47 per cent of Kenya’s employers are not ready for graduates as they do not possess the requisite expertise. Besides, layoffs and early retirement packages in these organisations are becoming a trend.
The recent layoffs by Sportspesa, Betin, KQ and Nakumatt among other companies support this argument. The issue of youth unemployment in Kenya has been in existence for more than 20 years. The Jubilee government promised to create a million jobs for young people. It introduced a number of ways to tackle this problem such as youth fund, kazi kwa vijana, music studios and soccer stadiums across the country.
The idea is laudable but implementation is still crawling. Policymakers have a responsibility to create an enabling environment in order to expand economic opportunities. Tertiary institutions should also evolve and teach digital literacy.