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Kenya moves to alleviate unemployment pains 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Securing an employment in a formal sector is every varsity graduate’s dream.

However, this dream is quickly dashed away by Kenyan employers who are reluctant to absorb graduates into the job market on claims of lack of job experience.

According to the employers, they are either forced to bear the costs of taking the fresh graduates for a short training course to sharpen their skills before employing them or hire them on contractual terms.

In its latest survey, the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) revealed that 70 percent of entry-level recruits require a refresher course in order to start to deliver in their new jobs.

This makes the graduates take even longer than expected to become productive, nearly doubling staff costs in a majority of organizations.

The FKE survey further revealed that over 90 percent of Kenyan job seekers have more qualifications than are required for entry-level jobs, a situation that is being driven by an oversupply of university graduates.

According to a survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released in March, 7 million Kenyans are unemployed.

Out of these, 1.4 million have been desperately looking for work. The rest have given up on job hunting, with some opting to go back for further studies.

The survey paints a grim picture of the country’s unemployment levels, while shattering the 40 percent unemployment rate myth.

The survey also revealed that up to 19.5 million Kenyans are active in the labour force, majority of them in low-cadre, poor-paying jobs.

Even so, the unemployment crisis may soon be thing of the past with President Uhuru Kenyatta stepping in to alleviate the pain and agony Kenyan graduates seeking jobs solutions.

The signing of the bill creating a state agency tasked with facilitating youth employment into law in April 2016 led to the establishment of the National Youth Employment Authority (NEA).

The mandate of NEA mainly provides for a comprehensive institutional framework for employment management; enhancement of employment promotion interventions; and increasing access to employment by the youth, minorities and marginalized groups and for connected purposes.

Recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled a one year long paid internship program for university and technical institute graduates.

Consequently, the head of state directed all public institutions to implement the paid internship or paid apprenticeship.

Currently, many public institutions are implementing the program. This financial year 2018/2019, most public institutions have allocated budgets for the paid internship program.

The program aims at providing the youth with an opportunity for the job experience to build upon skills learnt at school and for professional development hence, enhance their employability.

The graduate internship program, or paid apprenticeships, has seen graduates from universities and technical institutes absorbed by government and the private sector for a period of 12 to utmost 18 months.

Currently, most government institutions have advertised for internship opportunities in their organizations with a stipend of 250 U.S. dollars.

Some of the organizations that have absorbed the graduates on paid apprenticeships include National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada), Kenya National Accreditation Services (Kenas), Commission for University Education, Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA), Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Rural Roads Urban Authority (KURRA) and many others. 

A spot check showed that most of the organizations hire approximately 15 interns in their organisations.

The state agencies are required to advertise the job through their websites and media platforms thereafter an interview is conducted and the candidates shortlisted for the job.   

The qualified candidates are absorbed into various departments and are paid a stipend of 250 dollars per month.

Ann Wambui, a beneficiary of the paid internship and a graduate of University of Nairobi said she is thankful to the President for the initiative.

“Internship programs gives us (graduates), offers chance not only to gain hands on experience but stand a higher chance of getting a position in the future,” says Wambui, who is on a six month paid internship program at one of the government agencies.

According to recent data from the Commission for University Education (CUE), about 143,262 students have graduated in the last four years.

Another beneficiary, Cliff Otieno says, the paid internship program not only empower young graduates financially but also gives them platform to practice what they learnt in school.

“It gives us hope and value for the money our parents spent in university to ensure we acquire professional skills, I’m thankful to the President,” he said. 

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