Third Eye

Let’s diversify economy to tackle employment crisis

Friday, September 13th, 2019 08:37 |

Riziki Dunstan       

The future will have no pity for those men who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes of cold complicity—Frantz Fanon.

The level of unemployment often mirrors the state of the nation’s economy. Joblessness is generally dependent on the overall status of the economy; this has a congruency to insecurity and poverty. 

There is cause for alarm for a nation that can not guarantee its youth jobs. What’s more, we seem not to have a “Marshall Plan” for jobs resulting in general disenchantment. Ours is a dysfunctional structure where the centre is bloated. 

The country needs a sustainable and pragmatic synergy between the national and county governments in terms of strategies to address youth unemployment. The structure of our economy in itself is a challenge, given that it is heavily reliant on tourism and agriculture. There is a need to diversify the economy and place more emphasis on manufacturing and industrialisation.

The counties, on the other hand, have become employment bureaus where nepotism and favouritism are order of the job.

The concept of “Monkey dey work, Baboon dey Chop” in shrewd capitallism is well prominent in this country, many workers are living at the mercy of a few rich people which has continued to widen the gap of between the rich and the poor. This, in turn has led to the emergence of the Tribes of “Haves” and “Have Nots” and the resultant social tensions.

The most direct impact on the economy of an unproductive labour force is lost output in terms of goods and services. With no income tax to collect and the loss of receipts from indirect taxes, the country’s revenue streams shrink. 

The resurgence of criminal groups especially at the Coast, and the audacity with which they attack locals speaks volume of the relationship between unemployment of insecurity.  There is a need of partnerships between the private sector, national government and county government to come up with strategies to revive the  blue economy, reinvest and market our coastal cities as for purposes of reinvigorating tourism. Insecurity translates to loss of much needed foreign investments.

Education remains an engine of social transformation, thus the is a need to always ensure education relates to the needs of the masses. Since Kiswahili is being adopted as “Lingua Franca” in most African nations, youth at the coast should be encouraged to pursue education with focus on teaching Kiswahili. If this is well thought out and with the demand for teachers in the region, then this would create employment opportunities for the youth. 

Agriculture has proved as one of the most viable sectors especially in job creation. It’s unfortunate that Kenya imports food, including maize, garlic, grapes, apples and many other products that can be grown locally. Our agro-processing factories import a bulk of raw materials which spells doom to our nascent agro-processing sector and loss of jobs.  

A lot can be done to “sell” agriculture as a lucrative employment option to the youth, by incentivising  various inputs such as fertiliser and helping with the product marketing. This way, the government will help eradicate unemployment as well as perpetual food insecurity.

A huge chunk of the youth spend valuable time on mundane stuff on social media, while they could use the technology advancement and the cyber space to promote research, innovations and sharing of informations on issues that would positively contribute to economic growth.

The education system has its liberal bias which oversupplies the labour market with graduates who do not possess the skills required by the employer. Indeed, there is a drought of graduates with requisite soft skills for life and enterpreneurship.

 There is need to create strong mentorship programmes more so in institution of higher learning so that the graduates are adequately prepared for the Job market and enterpreneurship. 

The government, through relevant agencies and partnerships,  should incubate and finance youth start-ups. Universities need to continually review their programmes to meet the ever changing market demands.

To transform our economy there is a need to invest further and encourage our youths to prioritise vocational and technical training. Our economy can not be built on the pipe dream of importation of technical skills, including from China. We need to grow a skilled manpower and make Kenya a skill and technical based economy.

Countries such as Korea developed an education programme for the economy and it’s time the education stakeholders should consider  reviewing our system to focus on skills and education for industrial and economic revolution.

The writer is a lawyer and governance consultant

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