Kenya has a largely youthful population but sadly many are unemployed amid challenges in creating sufficient job opportunities. As the government mulls how to spur job creation, all is not lost, here is how to generate employment opportunities faster.
Technical and vocational education
By 2020, there were around 2,301 technical and vocational education institutes registered in the country and their role is to provide the necessary skills required for young people to succeed in their careers. By strengthening the already existing ones, young people will be empowered to sharpen their skills in jobs like carpentry, computer programming, plumbing and many others. With proper training, the graduates can be nurtured into specialists that the government can tap to execute projects countrywide.
Agriculture and agribusiness
The agricultural sector is the backbone of Kenya’s economy contributing approximately 33 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs more than 40 per cent of the total population and 70 per cent of the rural population.
With enhanced training, access to modern farming techniques and financial support, this can attract more youthful farmers who can advance the sector and support agricultural entrepreneurship.
In addition, this will spur the development of agribusiness value chains in areas such as processing, packaging, and marketing agricultural products for additional job opportunities in the sector.
Digital skills and associated technology
Since the pandemic, social media has become an incredible platform where people learn, create content and get entertained. It has also seen the rise of digital content creators who earn money online. Presently, Kenya is among the leaders in terms of digital technology development in Africa and the sector must be given the space to tap more innovation to attract more youths.
Instead of increasing taxes, the government should partner with big tech companies like Google, Meta, and Twitter to empower more young people and help them learn how to utilise the opportunities online. The national and country governments can also invest in digital literacy programmes to enhance young people’s skills in information technology and encourage the growth of the digital economy. Moreover, they should foster innovation hubs and support startups in the technology sector.
Entrepreneurship and small business development
Kenya has witnessed growth in entrepreneurship and innovation which has resulted in the rise of small businesses in the country. The government should encourage and support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing access to finance, training, and mentorship programmes for aspiring young entrepreneurs. They should also give incentives to young entrepreneurs who are creating jobs instead of burdening them with taxes.
For the economy to succeed and jobs to be created, the economy needs reliable infrastructure to connect supply chains, and efficiently move goods, services and people from one point to another. By pumping money into infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, and energy systems, this value chain can create lots of jobs during the construction and operation phases. In addition, the government should seek to develop public-private partnerships to attract investment and spur job creation
Tourism and hospitality industry
Tourism created 1 in 4 new jobs before the pandemic to show the value of tourism in the Kenyan economy. Kenya has a rich pool of trained youths who can be absorbed in the services sector that tourism can open up.
The government should do more to enhance tourism infrastructure, promote domestic and international tourism, and provide training programmes for hospitality services. They should also encourage the development of eco-tourism and cultural tourism to create sustainable job opportunities.
Creative and cultural industries
Kenya’s creative sector contributes 5 per cent to the national GDP meaning that it is now a significant contributor to employment.
Cultural and creative industries, which comprise activities in entertainment, architecture, arts and crafts, books, media and software have become vital in empowering young people financially.
The industry should be supported through the development of the creative and cultural sectors, including film, music, fashion, and crafts. Training should also be provided and there should be access to markets, and financial support for young artists and entrepreneurs in these industries. Tools of trade youths require for jobs in the sectors should not be taxed to make them more affordable.
Deepen access to finance
Due to a lack of experience, and security, the youth are often ignored when it comes to access to formal financial services. Factors like high transaction costs, legal restrictions as well as negative stereotypes about youth shut them out of the system. The government can ensure that regulatory frameworks and inclusive policies that are both youth-friendly and protective of youth rights must be considered to increase youth financial inclusion. Financial literacy programmes among young people should be deepened to improve their ability to manage businesses and access credit.
Public and private sector partnerships
The government should foster collaboration between the government, private sector, and civil society organisations to create an enabling environment for job creation. There should be dialogue with businesses to understand their needs and align policies accordingly. The nexus between the government and the private sector must be seamless and targeted towards attracting more youths to the table.
Green and blue economy
The green economy has the power to create new trade opportunities for more young people if more investment and research targeting the sector is put in place. For instance, promoting renewable energy projects, waste management programmes, and sustainable agriculture practices can create many green job opportunities. There should also be investments in research and development for blue economy technologies and provide training for young people in these sectors.