Unemployment is a persistent and pressing issue that affects economies globally, including Kenya. In 2023, Kenya grapples with various underlying causes that contribute to the high levels of unemployment. This article aims to shed light on nine major causes of unemployment in Kenya, focusing on economic, social, and structural factors that have a significant impact on the nation’s workforce.
Despite years or months of job searching, nearly half of Kenyan adults are unemployed. This has an especially negative impact on young people who turn to criminal activity after being unable to obtain employment.
However, as it is in charge of providing work opportunities for its inhabitants, the Kenyan government is to fault for all of these.
Causes of Unemployment in Kenya
The majority of Kenyans lack jobs for the reasons listed below;
1. The Decline of the Kenyan Economy: Economic activity has a significant impact on unemployment. More individuals are required to produce more goods and services during periods of strong economic activity.
However, job cuts occur when the economy is weak, which contributes to the increase in unemployment. Because to Kenya’s deteriorating economy, there are now fewer jobs available throughout the country.
2. Climate Change: People’s reliance on agriculture as a source of work has become more difficult as a result of climate change. The relationship between the natural world and the workplace is quite close, according to the International Labour Organisation.
There is a serious threat to employment in Kenya from climate change. Industries that strongly rely on natural resources, such as agriculture and fisheries, suffer decreased productivity and income loss when extreme weather events grow more common and unpredictable. Rural towns experience job losses as a result of farming activity disruptions brought on by droughts, floods, and altered rainfall patterns.
Additionally, climate-related issues have an impact on industry and tourism, which affects job possibilities in these areas. The ensuing unemployment exacerbates economic instability and poverty. To protect livelihoods and advance long-term job opportunities in Kenya, combating climate change through sustainable policies and adaption measures is essential.
3. Rise in Population: Our population is growing, and as a result, thousands of young people graduate each year, increasing the demand for jobs. Because of the excessive population, there are fewer jobs available for everyone.
The increase in unemployment in Kenya is largely a result of population growth. The labour market is under a lot of strain due to the rapid population expansion and the lack of available jobs. There are too many unemployed people because the work supply cannot keep up with the rise of job seekers.
This condition has an especially negative impact on the formal sector, which increases underemployment and informal employment. Additionally, it might be difficult for young people, who make up a sizeable section of the population, to find adequate employment. Focused efforts on economic growth, skill development, and the creation of long-term work prospects are necessary to address this issue in order to accommodate the expanding population.
4. Poor Standard of Education: Kenya’s educational system has come under fire for its role in the country’s high young unemployment rate. According to reports, the system gave students and young people the skills necessary to become job seekers once they finished their education rather than training them to create work.
As a result, young people are now unable to exist on their own. The formal education placed a strong emphasis on white-collar jobs, leading young people to assume that finding a great career opportunity is the superior option.
5. Corruption: The belief that one needs contacts to get a job in Kenya seems to endure into the future. In Kenya, where nepotism and tribalism are commonplace, it is difficult to get a job without “connections” because of these social norms. This will almost always be the root cause of the majority of the nation’s vices because it has supplanted the nation’s welfare and its leaders are the ones who started it.
The belief that you can’t get a job in Kenya without contacts is always true and doesn’t appear to change in the near future. It has acquired traction and will persist. Without “connections,” it’s difficult to get a job in Kenya today, and this is due to the prevalence of tribalism and nepotism there.
6. Low Educational Attainment: Kenyans have attended schools. Yes, although not in a good enough number, despite the recent increase in students. However, a sizable portion of Kenyans lack a decent education, perhaps because they were unable to pay their tuition or access quality educational resources. Job seekers have had a nightmare because of this. If you don’t have the required level of education, no employer will hire you.
7. Government offering Contracts to Foreign Firms: This is a serious issue that warrants government criticism. Kenya has universities that offer top-notch engineering programmes, yet you will never see graduates from these institutions working on building projects like roads or other types of construction.
Only a few Kenyans provide unofficial labor—this is their country, after all—and all you find are Chinese engineers handling both the managerial and manual labour.
8. The Emergence of Non-certified Colleges and Universities: There are now some colleges and universities that offer formal education to Kenyans without having ISO certification. The Nairobi Aviation College is one illustration; it was once claimed to be uncertified.
Even after a number of Kenyans successfully graduated from that university and lost their employment, the government ruled all credentials from that institution worthless, forcing them to start over. Companies now discriminate against small colleges and universities and favour larger ones, which has an impact on the employment market.
9. Poor Industrial Sector: Yes, industrialization in Kenya is a wonderful thing, but it is insufficient to provide Kenyans with decent jobs in sufficient numbers. Many Kenyans have adequate services to offer, but they lack factories and offices in which to do so.
Therefore, in order to provide Kenyans with better and sufficient employment opportunities, the Kenyan government should make an effort to promote the industrial sector of the country.
In conclusion, identifying the root causes of unemployment in Kenya is essential to developing workable strategies to address this enduring problem. Numerous connected issues, as we have discussed in this blog post, are to blame for the high unemployment rates in the nation.
Government, business, educational institutions, and civil society must work together to address these complex causes of unemployment. Adopting comprehensive approaches that advance inclusive economic growth, enhance the educational system, and place a high priority on the establishment of decent employment prospects are necessary for policymakers.
Additionally, programmes that promote entrepreneurship and aid small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) can significantly contribute to the creation of job possibilities. To foster the development of SMEs and increase job creation, access to finance, business mentoring, and supportive regulatory environments are crucial.
In the end, combating unemployment in Kenya is a difficult endeavor that needs urgent attention and cooperation from all parties involved. Kenya can pave the way to a more prosperous and inclusive future where every citizen has the opportunity to take part in and contribute to the nation’s economic growth by tackling the underlying causes of unemployment and putting forth tailored remedies.