FACTORS AFFECTING EMPLOYMENT IN KENYA. Creating opportunities in terms of employment is of critical concern to every country in the world. While the developed countries have some strategies to cushion the citizen against unemployment, the developing and under developed countries are still struggling with the impact of unemployment. There are a number of factors that have continued to affect employment in Kenya. These factors are traced from colonial era and continue to have influence even today.
The major factors discussed in this paper include:economic factor, political factor, migration factor, organizational factor and demographic factors (gender and ethnicity factor).
Economic Factor Kenya’s economy is market-based, with some state-owned infrastructure enterprises, and maintains a liberalized external trade system. The economy’s healvy dependence on rain-fed agriculture and the tourism sector leaves it vulnerable to cycles of boom and bust. The agricultural sector employs nearly 75 percent of the country’s 38 million people. Half of the sector’s output remains subsistence production.
The economic state in Kenya has also been noted to be a contributor towards employments and workers’ progress.
In the early 2000s, agriculture remains the population’s main occupation and source of income. In 2006 Kenya’s labor force was estimated to include about 12 million workers, almost 75 percent in agriculture. The number employed outside small-scale agriculture and pastoralism was about 6 million. In 2004 about 15 percent of the labor force was officially classified as unemployed. Other estimates place Kenya’s unemployment much higher, even up to 40 percent. Political Factor
Political influence has had an arguably considerable effect on employments and employment arenas in Kenya. For example, in the colonial era, the new administrators had to be distributed to all regions of the new colony so as to establish effective administration of the natives. This move started administrative centers that were eventually to grow into second level urban centers after the first level ones, mainly those along the railway line. These new administrative centers became key points for collection of raw materials, taxes and control of the labor market, which was a primary oncern of the colonial system in Kenya and in many other colonized African countries. Even today, politics have continued to influence employment in Kenya. Some positions in government are political. In such positions, one is expected to show loyalty to the employer (god father). One is at risk if the political employer loses office. Other positions have civil service or other protections which protect one’s position from changes of employer or party. Migration Factor An Urban center in Kenya has been defined as any area with over 2,000 persons. This has not been revised yet since the 1948 population census.
It is notable that there was a slight decline of urban population growth between 1969 to 1979. This could be attributed to the efforts of the “Back to the land policy” adopted by the Kenyatta Government. One way that rural urban migration was slightly averted during those years is through the resettlement policies to productive agricultural areas especially those formerly owned by white settlers. This may also explain why in the 1970s, the pattern of urban growth shifted significantly from the major cities (Nairobi and Mombasa) to secondary towns whose share of the total urban population grew from 7 percent to 31 percent.
Nairobi and Mombasa underwent a decrease in population share from 70 percent to 51 percent over the same period. Today, the wave of urban-rural migration is higher than ever before. People migrate to town looking for greener pastures forgetting that the very rural areas have equally their own opportunities. Rapid urbanization leading to what has been described as over urbanization has been a consequence of rural urban migration.
While the cities of East Africa as well as other parts of Africa are still considerably smaller in size compared to the cities in Europe, the fact of the matter is that they have grown much faster that those in Europe grew during their time. Given that urban development in Kenya was not coupled with industrialization, a great consequence has been the rising unemployment rates especially as was the case in Kenya in the late 1970s to the present. Many school leavers have continued to migrate to the urban areas with the hope of formal employment as per their training and many have had to lower their expectations.
Many have also been forced to seek other alternatives and forget their college diplomas, which have not translated into the “[expected job! ” The labor market in the urban areas was in the colonial period controlled but after independence there was free migration and this increased the labor resource while the market for it did not grow at the same time. Organizational Factors The recruitment function of the organizations is affected and governed by a mix of various internal and external forces. The internal forces or factors are the factors that can be controlled by the organization.
And the external factors are those factors which cannot be controlled by the organization. There are certain internal factors that influence institutional employment. These include recruitment policy in the organization, human resource planning, size of the firm, cost of recruitment and growth and expansion. Employment in the organization may also be influence by certain external factors. These include supply and demand, labor market, political, social and legal framework and employment rate in the country. (Kleiner, 2009).
Demographic Factors Demographic factors that may affect employment include gender, tribe (ethnicity), education and religion. This paper briefly explores gender and ethnicity factors. Gender since it is the most pronounced in relation to employment in Sub-Saharan Africa where social roles are still quite much pronounced and ethnicity since it is deeply rooted in most of African societies. Gender Factor Traditionally (in African context), men left home for work and women remained back home to carry on with home chores.
While men primarily left their rural homes during the colonial period to go and work in the urban areas, women often left without the promise of a job. Women were pushed out of their rural settings by a number of non-economic factors. Key among those conditions included social conditions at their rural homes, marital unhappiness and lack of social services. This in any case did not resolve employment problems. There were jobs that were specifically held to be men’s. Thus, they still suffered discrimination and could only engage in general chores socially deemed fit for them.
Today, even with affirmative action being taken to absorb them in labor market, there are still disparities. (Macharia,1997). Ethnicity Factor Ethnicity has had a long-term effect on employments and the labor market in Kenya. A number of recruits have been getting employment considerations on the basis of their ethnic origins, even in the recent past. It was on this basis that the country’s colonial system of governance managed people’s movements to various parts of the country, by implementing restrictions that relied on their origins.
The Kikuyus especially those from Kabete in Kiambu District were able to move easily and without much cost to Nairobi. (Onstad 1990). Ethnicity in Kenya is deep rooted. It has had its influence from political to social and economic spheres. Even today, job placement is largely influenced by ones’ ethnicity rather than on merit. References: Employment Relations Record (2004). Employment relationship and politicisation: Views of Malaysian civil servants working in Penang. GoK (2002).
The 1998/99 integrated labour force survey report, Ministry of Planning and National Development, Nairobi. Government Press. Odhiambo, O. (2006). Enhancing the Productive Capacity of Rural Youth in Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resource Management towards Employment Creation in Kenya: Experiences from Kenya Rural Youth Livelihood Strategies Programme (KERYLIP) Pilot Project in Nyando District-Nyanza Province of Kenya. Nairobi: Youth Employment Summit-Nairobi (YES). World Bank (1982). “Kenya- Economic Development and Urbanization Policy,” Vol. II. Main Report, Washington D. C.
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