Kenya’s Labor must be absorbed through stakeholder engagement
Today the world celebrates the one day that is synonymous with employees all over the world. Labor Day or Workers Day as it is referred to in some countries is a key day in the calendar of workers who come together to garner insights of how far they have come in the working world. From a time when women were not allowed to formally be employed, to the age of slavery and industrialization and to innovators who made the working world a better place, all these are celebrated during this day. Celebrated on 1st May, Labor Day is also a time to advocate for the rights of workers especially with regard to basic benefits, rights and privileges.
While all these are great in terms of what should be done to make working an enjoyable engagement, the number of unemployed Kenyans especially those making up the youth cluster continues to grow year after year. A majority in this group have had the challenge of gaining tangible experience which many employers look for before providing a job to anyone. Optiven Group has now taken up the challenge and is offering an opportunity for qualified youth to join a rapid mentorship programme geared to open the working world to them. Through the mentorship programme, the mentees have an opportunity to engage with associates at the various departments in order to understand what actually happens on the ground in the working sphere. The first cohorts for the year 2019 came on board in March and will be engaged until July 2019. Such a mentee is Vincent Kinara of Moi University who is being mentored in the Public Relations Department this month says, “I have learnt about open door policy allowing staff to work in a highly collaborative manner, which increases productivity and improves staff morale”. According to Kinara, he has had an opportunity to understand transparency in the workplace which provides associates to celebrate their achievements and improve on their weaknesses when they arise.
His sentiments are echoed by a number of others who are looking to learn and adapt strategies under the mentorship programme. As the world celebrates Labor Day today, the challenge now remains how to engage the ballooning number of youth seeking to get into gainful employment. The need for them to get encouragement, inspiration and guidance remains great. It is this same youth that we are looking to to propel the country to the next level socially and economically. In line with this year’s Labor Day theme, “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement” derived from the International Labor Organization, there is need to create opportunities for youth in the work place through engagement including mentorship. This cannot be achieved by one but all stakeholders in the corporate space be they public or private investors. It is engagement of this nature that enables the future leaders of corporate Kenya to have hope of a better future and make it possible for a growing economy to thrive. This is a clarion call that needs urgent consideration if the report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released on 25th April 2019 is anything to go by. According to the report, only 78,400 new formal jobs were created in the economy last year compared to 114,400 in 2017. The report adds that the number of formal jobs generated by the economy fell to a six-year low in 2018, making it the slowest pace of formal job growth since 2012 when the economy churned out 75,000 official jobs. The drop in the number of formal jobs is a blow to job seekers, especially the close to one million young people who graduate from various educational institutions every year. But all this can turn around, if companies expand their businesses through innovation, and provide the youth with opportunities to kick start their employment journey through mentorship as has been the case with Optiven Group.