Ahead of the March 4 elections, both Jubilee and Cord campaigned on a platform of tackling unemployment in the country once in power. Since Jubilee is now in power, it is time that it put in place a clear strategy on how the country is to tackle unemployment especially among the youth.
According to government data, 42 per cent of the country's available workforce is not in gainful employment. This number is expected to remain this way as more young people continue to graduate from learning institutions annually and the economy churns less jobs every year.
Statistics show that, seven out of every 10 unemployed people in Kenya are aged between 18 and 35 years. More than half a million young people join the elusive job market every year with different forms of training and qualifications.
There is therefore a need for a deliberate attempt to create more jobs to accommodate the large number of the unemployed youth. The danger of having a large non-working population is that the country may experience rising crime rates that will eventually result in a higher insecurity rates than today.
According to the 2013 Economic Review, the labour market recorded 659,400 new jobs in 2012, representing an increase of 5.5 per cent. In total, 68,000 new jobs were created in the modern sector in 2012, compared to 74,200 in 2011.
The bulk of the new jobs in the modern sector were created in Building and Construction, Information and Communication, Education and Health activities. The informal sector which constituted 89.7 per cent of total employment created an additional 591,400 jobs.
In it's manifesto, the Jubilee coalition says it will empower the youth through creation of jobs. To empower the youth, Jubilee Coalition says it will allocate 2.5 per cent of the national revenue annually towards establishing a youth enterprise fund designed in line with the CDF model.
The manifesto says the Jubilee government will further establish innovation centres to support the emerging generation of highly creative Kenyans and introduce use of technology in all learning institutions.
Jubilee coalition says its government will aim at creating a million jobs by promoting foreign investment in new factories and giving tax-breaks, grants and loans to young people to set up their own businesses.
The manifesto says a jubilee government will aim at growing Kenya's manufacturing sector, through tax incentives and grants for overseas companies to establish industrial plants for local supply and the wider East African economy.
It also says that Jubilee will create a reliable energy infrastructure by extending the national grid network and promoting renewable energy to enable private sector companies to plan and invest for growth as well as implement a "Buy Kenya" policy for government and parastatals where Kenyan goods and services get priority.
These are great plans by the government and we can expect some of them to be rolled out in the coming months.
However, the government has to make key deliberate attempts to fast-track the process of job creation in the country. There is need for clear structures aimed at ensuring that the private sector creates a large number of jobs to complement the government and match up to the soaring unemployment numbers.
Kenya has an Employment Bureau under the Ministry of Labour but its operations are a mystery to the large number of young people seeking jobs. It is time that the government worked on a reform process that does not only publicise the Bureau but also empowers it to enhance its operations.
One way of empowering the Bureau is turning it into a State Corporation which will also enhance its budgetary allocation thus enhancing its operations. This would be a great move, presently, as the government is in the process of reforming the parastatal sector.
The Employment Bureau should also be expanded or work in conjunction with the National Youth Department to focus on putting in place structures for targeted training to enhance the capacity of specific graduates. Alongside, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, the Bureau can come up with training manuals on business concepts, plans, implementation and monitoring.
The Bureau should also be mandated to put in place a database of all qualified Kenyans who leave learning institutions every year. The database should have classes of qualification and updated regularly by having the graduates submit new information on their latest qualifications
Government institutions should be encouraged to tap into the database when seeking new employees and replacement of those who leave the civil service.
The government should also ensure that all contractors who get jobs related to projects under Vision 2030, employ some of the staff for formal and informal jobs from the Employment Bureau database.
The Government should also encourage the private sector to tap into the Employment Bureau database when seeking employees. Such companies, local or international, should qualify for tax incentives for getting employees from the government database.
There are a lot of opportunities that will arise from the recent China trip by the President where Kenya secured some Sh425 billion. Young people must be encouraged to take advantage of this and the Sh6 billion Uwezo fund to be launched soon and organize themselves into companies.
The government should, in the process, organize training, support systems and market access for these youth groups as devolved funds such as the Youth Enterprise Fund have focused on disbursement. There is need for government to partner with existing empowerment companies in helping the young people get organized.
Whatever projects that are to arise from the Sh425 billion funding, a substantial amount should go to the youth and youth-driven groups and companies. There is therefore a need to create a database of such companies as a way of ensuring that they benefit.
Coupled with all this, the government must revisit the Sh15 billion National Youth Empowerment Marshal Plan which was kicked off in 2009 by former President Mwai Kibaki. A proper audit on what has been achieved from this plan should be conducted to ensure that whatever empowerment programme is put in place is successful.
Putting together such structures and policies the government will be able to create more opportunities and jobs especially for the youth and in the process grow the economy. A thriving economy will then churn out near enough jobs for new graduates.