Reasons of Unemployment in Kenya

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  • Written by:

    Pratibha bissht

    Nearly half of Kenyan youth lack employment. This especially affects youths who after failing to find jobs and settle get into criminal activities. The number of unemployed people in Kenya has currently risen due to various factors. However, the Kenyan government is to blame for all these since it is responsible for creating employment opportunities for its citizens.​ A recent study by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has ranked Kenya as having the highest unemployment rate in East Africa region. According to the study, one out of every five youth in Kenya is unemployed even as thousands of graduates flock the job market every year. The entire East Africa region has an unemployment rate of 80 percent. The jua kali sector in Kenya has however helped in providing job opportunities as it employs at least 86 percent of the workforce thus controlling 80 percent of the economy. According to a survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), seven million Kenyans are unemployed. Out of these, 1.4 million have been desperately looking for work. The rest have given up on job hunting, with some opting to go back for further studies. According to the survey, up to 19.5 million Kenyans are active in the labor force, majority of them in low-cadre, poor-paying jobs.

    There are some causes of unemployment.

    Corruption – The mentality of you cannot find a job in Kenya without connections is never wrong and seems to never be wrong in the coming future. It has gained ground and is here to stay. You can hardly find a job in Kenya without connections and this is caused by tribalism and nepotism which are norms in the country today.

    The Education System – Kenyans have gone to school yeah but not a good number though lately people are venturing into education. However, a good percentage of Kenyans lack proper education may be because they could not afford school fees or access good educational facilities. This has been a nightmare for people seeking employment.

    This education also seem to provide irrelevant skills that cannot be applied in some fields hence leaving most people jobless since there are no matching employment opportunities matching their skills.

    No company would employ you if you do not meet the level of education they consider.

    There are some colleges and universities that have emerged and are not ISO -certified to provide formal education to Kenyans. This has affected the employment sector with companies discriminating against small colleges and universities and considering bigger ones.

    High population growth rate – The rate of population increase has currently been too high hence less jobs available for all people. People tend to migrate in the urban areas in search of jobs. This aggravates unemployment in the urban areas.  They leave rural areas instead of cultivating the farm in production of food. This problem can be overcome by reducing the high population growth rates using methods used to control population growth.

    Lack of Co-operant Factors – Especially in the case of capital and skilled labor is scarce in most developing countries. Many individuals graduate with degrees from schools but they lack the skills and experience to work in different sectors.

    Use of inappropriate technology In developing countries creates a situation where by industries continue using relatively capital intensive methods of production instead of labor intensive ones. This is caused by relative factor prices of capital and labor, and foreign ownership of firms.

    Capacity under Utilization – Most firms tend to produce below their capacity leading them to cut on employment. This arises due to insufficient demand of their products and monopoly practices that limit output.

    Seasonal nature of labor demand – The demand for labor in rural areas is mostly seasonal and this creates problems of unemployment.

    Seasonal nature of Jobs – Some jobs like especially in the tourism sector are very seasonal whereby they only become booming during summer vacation and fluctuate in low seasons. This leaves most people in that sector jobless during those low seasons.

    An imperfection in the labor market – An imperfection in the labor market is caused by the government and the trade union interventions. This has to some point distorted the labor market by maintaining minimum wages above the market equilibrium. This has failed the Kenyan wage structure to coordinate demand and supply.

    Government offering contracts to foreign firms – Kenya has universities offering good engineering courses but you will never find graduates from these universities in road construction sites or generally the construction industry. Chinese engineers doing both the managerial and hand work.

    Poor industrial sector – Industrialization in Kenya is good but it is not enough to offer proper and enough employment to Kenyans. The Kenyan government should therefore do efforts on promoting the industrial sector of the Kenya to offer employment to Kenyans.


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