Push to Have Unemployed Youth Paid 3 Times a Year


The rise in youth unemployment in Kenya has got the country into a critical situation. The concerns of well trained youth with no jobs has at least reached the ears of the Kenyan legislatures pushing for amendments in the Employment Act and Social Assistance Act.  According to the amendments being proposed by two MPs-Caleb Amisi (Saboti) and Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), the MPs want to see the government absorb the unemployed youth by subsidies to cushion them against unemployment and the harsh economic times.

In this proposal, Graduates and diploma holders absorbed as interns will be entitled to a monthly stipend of Sh25,000 while unemployed youth will get a monthly hardship allowance of Sh3,000 if a proposal to amend the Employment Act and Social assistance Act is approved by the House.

The proportion of Kenya’s youth to the population is among the highest globally, presenting the economy with a vibrant manpower if put to productive use.

Kenya’s ratio of youth (aged 15-24) to the population stands at 20.3 per cent, above the world’s average of 15.8 per cent and 19.2 per cent for Africa.

The millennials add up to 10.1 million out of Kenya’s population of 49.7 million, data from US-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB) shows.

“A high youth share means that the trajectory for population growth in coming decades will be strong,” said Peter Goldstein of PRB. Ethiopia boasts the highest youth population share globally at 21.8 per cent, or 22.8 million, while Bulgaria has the least at 9.1 per cent.

The Kenyan wage bill is at its peak since independence but the challenge of absorbing unemployed youth has still not been sorted out. Kenya has one of the highest unemployment rates in Africa with a ballooning rise of the youth also known as the millenials. This will mean the government will spend Sh 93.6 billion in the first year to accommodate the unemployed youths; the figure will however shoot to Sh 100.8 billion in the second year.

Amisi’s legislative proposal also seeks to amend section 22 of the Principal Act to make provision for the Cabinet Secretary to gazette hardship allowance

Mr. Barasa on the other hand is seeking to amend the Employment Act no.1 of 2017 to provide for the absorption of diploma and graduate interns by public and private sector employees and pay them Sh25, 000 every month. This proposal is estimated to cost taxpayer’s Sh 26.5 billion if each of the country’s 110,604 interns are to be absorbed at an average Sh 20,000 monthly stipend.

The youth bulge could, however, breed runaway crime and other social evils in the absence of enough employment opportunities. The 15-24 age bracket, known as millennials, largely comprises high-schoolers, school dropouts, college goers and fresh graduates.

A World Bank report released last year shows that Kenya leads the region in youth unemployment at 17.3 per cent compared to only six per cent for neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania each.

Kenya’s unemployment crisis has been blamed on sluggish growth of formal sector jobs even as the country continues to produce thousands of university graduates every year.

Parents are increasingly facing the cold reality that educating their kids to college is nowadays not a direct ticket to jobs as was previously the case. Unlike any other time in our history, parents are seeing the need for additional skills set to survive in the harsh job market.

The Kenyan economy minted only 85,600 new formal jobs last year, down from 90,200 in 2015, indicating a slowdown in momentum.

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