24 April 2018

Kenya: Lift Civil Service Ban on Hiring, Says PSC

The Public Service Commission (PSC) wants the freeze on civil service hiring lifted to ease a job crisis triggered by the retirement of 37 per cent of public workers in the next decade.

The PSC told Parliament that the ban on hiring of non-essential staff has made it difficult to plan for succession.

The PSC said the share of civil servants above the age of 50 increased from 35 per cent in the year to June 2016, to 37 per cent last year.

This means that 66,000 civil servants will retire before 2027 amid fears that the government will be forced to retain some beyond the retirement age of 60 due to a skills shortage.

Senior management

The most affected staff are in senior management levels and technical cadres with critical skills and competencies.

"It is our prayer that the National Assembly considers reviewing the freeze to allow for recruitment to address youth unemployment and succession management challenges and improving service delivery," PSC acting chairman Peter ole Nkuraiya told the MPs Monday.

Mr Nkuraiya said that the freeze on hiring has made it difficult to address staffing gaps.

He said that the ageing workforce needs to be replaced but cannot due to the freeze.

A review of the ban on fresh hiring will have an effect on the ballooning wage bill.

Development projects

Public servants' salaries consumed half of revenues collected last year and impeded spending on development projects in a country mired in poverty, where the unemployment rate stands at about 40 per cent.

More workers beyond the age of 60 years will be put on contracts, said the PSC.

The retention of older staff has been blamed on lack of a mentoring programme in the public service.

"Majority of employees in management positions (Job Group P and above) are over 46 years," the PSC said earlier.

Only 19 per cent were aged 19 to 35 years in the year to June 2016.

Another 13.9 per cent were aged 36 to 40 years while 14 per cent were between 41 and 45 years.

Technical staff

Mr Nkuraiya told the MPs that the public service faces a shortage of technical staff, occasioned by high turnover to the private sector and foreign countries which offer better terms of service.

Last year the Treasury stopped recruitment in the public service as one of the measures to curb the ballooning wage bill.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said recruitment will be allowed for essential services such as security, health and education.

"It is better to have a lean workforce and pay them well than have many people who are underpaid," Mr Rotich said.


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