Friday, January 18, 2008

Youth unemployment & underemployment-ideas

Youth unemployment and underemployment are in my opinion Kenya's most urgent problem today and for the medium. The Youth minister should hit the ground running on the issue and look to have viable policy on the issue with the first 6 months.
Reason: Like the saying "the devil makes work for idle minds", youths with no prospects have become cannon fodder for politicians, criminal militias (mungiki, taliban), demagogues (religious as well as political), illicit activities such as dawa za kulevya, kumi kumi, "professional services" etc.
The underlying causes are our weak economy that has not so far started creating employment in large enough numbers; cost of higher education; lack of extra-circular activities such as organised sports and voluntary work.
one of the best ways to assess the problem and thus provide ideas would be to look at the different stages of education. From last yr's exams, 70% of the pupils will be going 
to 2ndary school leaving out another 200,000. This intake rate is higher than prior yrs but using this as a proxy, 
one can see that over 5 yrs, 1m pupils wouldn't have progressed beyond standard 8. They are also the most vulnerable
 of the youth with negligible grasp of issues; lacking advanced English (business language) or Swahili and will mainly interact 
with their own tribal members. this is the group most vulnerable to small inducements (such the Ksh500 mentioned for burning a house down). Some ideas:
  1. Implement the free secondary school and make it compulsory for pupils to stay on in school until they are 18.
  2. Introduce two non-fee paying tertiary colleges per province
  3. Encourage constituencies via the CDF to set colleges that cater the local economies' needs for example teaching them animal husbandry skills
  4. Creating apprentice opportunities in partnership with local or national businesses
Of those who go on to do to secondary, some drop out. Of those who sit say 250,000, only 25% get admitted to universities in Kenya (both public and private). The other 200,000 find their way impended
by having to compete for jobs against graduates. For these students, several ideas need to be implemented or evaluated:
  • having as a goal, that by 2012, each province will have two or more public universities and at least one private university
  • immediately convert polytechnics into universities
  • give tax incentives to those setting up private universities
  • rethink the 8-4-4 system and most importantly, bring back A-levels, to align us with for example, our EA partners
  • as per above, have more tertiary colleges
  • use students as supply teachers especially within their localities-so can be paid by CDF
  • again, as per above, work with local businesses to create apprentice opportunities
University graduates tarmacking used to be such a common feature and still is to some extent. However, there are many ways that the situation can be improved:
  1. courses catering for particular sectors of the economy e.g. road building;
  2. NGOs and other foreign companies must employ at least 90% Kenyans
  3. some of the emerging countries are crying out for labour
  4. the ANZAC countries have a partner agreement with the UK that gives anybody under the age of 30, a 2yr visa to come and work in the UK. Can we do the same with some of our other so-called developed partners such as Canada and the Scandinavians countries for example? In our case it would be graduates.
Finally, wasn't ironic seeing Najib Balala run into his top of the range Range Rover leaving protesters to partake of teargas?


Ssembonge said...

Maina, I'm for a different approach. Education does not create employment. Rather employment promotes education.

I would prefer if the government provides an enabling environment for investment and business. This in turn will generate jobs and the much needed taxes to fund 'free' education.

This way, we will also gear our education towards fulfilling the needs of employers.

Right now there are much more educated Kenyans than there are jobs. This is the main reason for under-employment and is promoting the brain drain.

In summary, we need infrastructure, rule of law, protection of private property (be it a mud hut) and corrupt free institutions.

MainaT said...

I think both approach needs to be looked after. We are simply letting to many kids go out into the world without adequate education.