The dream of most young Kenyans is to get a white collar job after completing education in order build self and the nation.
To most, achieving their career goals after the 8-4-4 education system is the most critical thing hence they will not settle for anything less than what they have trained for.
However reality dawns on them immediately they step into the overcrowded realm of unemployment that has characterized the Kenyan scene.
Youth unemployment is a growing problem in Kenya. It is devastating to note that youth unemployment constitutes 70 percent of total unemployment in the country. This is mainly attributed to the fact that Kenya’s economy is currently dependent on agriculture.
Agriculture in the country is mostly done by the older age since most Kenyan youths are moving from rural to urban areas in large numbers in search of office work. However the urban areas are not able to generate jobs as fast as the growth in population there. This factor has led to high levels of youth unemployment.
According to the 2009 population and housing census, 34 percent of the Kenyan population is aged between 15 and 34. This is a substantial workforce that could contribute significantly to economic growth. However, much of this labor force is unutilized.
The Kenyan Household Integrated Budget Survey (KIHBS) of 2005/06, indicated that unemployment stood at 25 percent for the age group 15-19, 24.2 percent for 20–24-year-olds, 15.7 percent for those aged 25-29 and 7.5 percent for the age group 30-34.
According the 2012 African Development Outlook, the high unemployment among the young has an implication for income distribution. This is because returns to growth accrue to only those who supply the factors of production.
The report launched by African Development Bank (AfDB) on Thursday further states that with the favorable economic achievements realized in the last ten years, unemployed young people are missing out on the gains. This calls for urgent intervention by the Kenyan government to address the issue of youth unemployment.
The informal sector remains the major employer accounting for over 75 percent of total employment in Kenya. This puts smallholder enterprises at the centre of job creation in Kenya. The “free primary education for all” policy adopted by the government is aimed at equipping the Kenyan population with basic life skills and is a strong foundation for a well-trained labour force. This is a progressive strategy for reducing youth unemployment.
The drawback to these strategies is that they are long-term in nature. This means that in the short to medium term Kenya will continue to experience rampant youth unemployment.
The main medium-term solution is the Youth Enterprise Development Fund operational over the last five years. To date, the fund has disbursed KES 5.96 billion to some 157 538 youth enterprises. However the funds as any other kitty in the country has been marred with controversy over misuse corruption and nepotism especially during disbarment and implementation processes.