By Dr. Kellen Kiambati and Dr. Dominic Mwenja
According to the latest human development index, Kenya has so far recorded 39.1 per cent unemployment rate – much higher compared to other neighbouring countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Growth of employment is not keeping up with economic growth. This is expected to be worse with the projected working age population growth of nearly 14 million people in the next ten years. It has also been reported that a large number of trained graduates have not produced the envisioned results. They are not able to secure jobs commensurate with their education and in most cases, employers complain of half-baked graduates with mismatching skills. This problem is greatly compounded by the fact that there is no diversification of economies that can acquire the multiple capabilities to produce goods and services for national consumption and export through micro industries at all levels of government. Failure to unpack and move up the value chain has made individuals and even organizations get stuck in low skills trap, leading to low rates of economic growth. This is a clear indication of dysfunctional workforce development.
Kenya should be deliberate about refining her citizens’ skills and development strategies in order to yield better results. It is possible to articulate a sustainable framework of a skills development strategy that can be effective across a broad range of economic and social circumstances. Dr. Kellen Kiambati, and Dr. Dominic Mwenja, President California Miramar University have developed and copyrighted a national workforce development model. This model, which has the potential to solve the long standing unemployment challenge in Kenya, presents a comprehensive productivity and employment creation through the use of relevant competencies, effective resource utilization, innovation and matching demand and supply. Governments should conduct job-market analyses to identify each area’s distinctive attributes and supply-and-demand dynamics, as well as the current state of the workforce.
The model is implemented by first undertaking a demographic analysis to understand the total population and skills endowment. This in turn is linked to resources available and level of consumption of goods and services with a view of establishing demand and supply at ward, constituency, county and national government levels. The demand and supply are integrated across wards, constituencies, counties and national systems to enable people acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to get meaningful employment and provide employers with a means to communicate and meet their demands for skills.The key elements of this national workforce development model are demographic analysis, resource analysis, consumption analysis, multiple level analysis of demand and supply, capacity building and up scaling ability. It takes cognizance of the fact that in order to achieve coherence, no level can operate in isolation. The flow is as shown below:
Workforce development has got two main functions: to enable people acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to get meaningful employment and to provide employers with a means to communicate and meet their demands for skills. Different government levels should be encouraged to cooperate with community organizations, financial institutions and other community development practitioners to their mutual benefit. An ideal comprehensive strategy removes silos and creates synergies across the varied workforce development initiatives while still meeting individual, organizational and societal needs. A comprehensive approach to workforce development means substantial employer engagement, deep community connections, career advancement, human service supports, industry-driven education and training, and the connective tissue of networks.
Linkage to the big four agenda
The Government of Kenya has committed to focus on four areas over the next five years. These four areas will drive the next wave of economic development and they will affect almost every home in this country. The four areas are: universal healthcare, affordable housing, manufacturing and food security. The success of these four areas will happen when the activities that support them are based at the ward and constituency level across the country.
In manufacturing, micro industries based at the ward and sub-county level will bring the much needed productive capacity at the lowest economic and political entity. The model addresses the needs and opportunities at this level thereby localizing production to meet local needs.
In affordable housing, local market conditions will determine what type of housing will be needed in each ward, especially in the small towns where the young who do not own land will look for affordable homes to either rent or build. By having jobs where they live and building affordable housing in the small towns, the model envisions revitalized rural towns that become engines of economic development.
By empowering Kenyans at the ward level, the model looks at enabling a majority, if not all Kenyans, in each ward across the country afford to participate in NHIF insurance scheme thereby enabling them to access healthcare. The model also looks at the penetration rate of healthcare providers based on the emerging class of consumers driven by increased purchasing power enhanced by other economic activities in the model.
In food security, the model looks at increasing the productive capacity of our land for food crops grown in each ward through specialization, trade and market development. It will focus on encouraging our people to transition from subsistence farming to commercial farming using modern science and technology that facilitates high levels of productivity based on space as opposed to an area.
The emergence of a socio-economic ecosystem developed by the model that there is capacity building and scaling up at every level from the ward to the sub-county to county and inter-county.
In order to have a transformed 21st century society in Kenya, policy makers should pay attention to the importance of skills development for economic diversification and growth. They should emphasize on demand led skills development so as to create micro industries. Equipping individuals with skills in national investment priority areas and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable population should be prioritized with a view of forming a circle of skills investments for inclusive and sustainable growth both at the county and national government levels.
Dr. Kellen Kiambati holds a PhD in Business Administration with a focus on Strategic Management from JKUAT and an MBA from KEMU. She is a certified Business Associate (CBPA) and a member of the Institute of Human Resource Management of Kenya. She is also the author of Business Research Methods and can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org