Unemployment bites among young people as the economy shrinks further

By Marion Tabitha

In the previous academic year 2021-2022, Masinde Muliro University graduated about 3802 students in the levels of PhD, Masters, Bachelors, Diploma, and certificate in their 18th Graduation ceremony. This academic year, similarly, the figures may not be any different. In fact, they may go up. These are statistics from one University among more than sixty-five recognized universities in Kenya, which also produce graduates in the various fields every year. Even so with such a number of graduates each year the number of opportunities either shrink or remain the same owing to the poor economic performance and reduced economic growth.

Most graduates have resorted to starting up businesses instead of relying on employment opportunities. It may sound easy but people who have ventured into business can attest that it is never a walk in the park, especially with high taxation rates in the country.

Kingi, a resident of Lurambi constituency in Kakamega has had a taste of what graduating and lacking a place of work feels. Kingi finished his Bachelor of commerce studies and graduated from Masinde Muliro University five years ago. Since then, he has been left to fend for himself by working as a bodaboda rider. Kingi tells me how he had to do odd jobs compared to what he studied to save up to buy a motorcycle and start his business.

Kingi said getting the motorcycle was not as hard as getting a license to be a driver. He had to pay to acquire the license which required him to have a certificate that proved he was trained to ride a motorcycle. From Kingi, it was more than he could handle but he had to persevere for him to get what he desired. He knew it would be his source of relief after employment seemed hard to get, little did he know that tough times were yet to come. Right now, Kingi speaks of high taxes and rocketed fuel prices and commodity prices but he nevertheless “trusts the process.”

The story of Kingi is the story of many young people countrywide who live within the brackets of making a living by any means possible having failed to get employment opportunities. From Siasa Place, in their county programs on youth concerns they happened to cover 5 counties that is Busia, Lamu, Kitui, Homabay and Kericho and common feedbacks ranged from unemployment, high taxation that made it difficult to startup businesses, government failing to channel information about work opportunities or even doing it after the application space is closed to enable politicians reward their loyalists.

The political leaders elected in office are not ignorant of this state among the youths because every manifesto they come up with always has something to do with employment for the youths. It is unbelievable how they would take over their position in the government only to make malicious decisions that are mostly influenced by nepotism, favouritism or improper motives like rewarding election losers.

While thousands of educated youths are tarmacking in search of employment, chief administrative secretaries (CASs) are appointed to work under roles that are debatably obsolete. Just in case you did not know, these positions come with new perks that will overburden the taxpayers.  Positions of CASs were open for application through an advert by the public service commission, but the big question is, how many youths applied for those positions? How were nominations done? And whether the nominations conformed to the constitutional values, principles, and the public service act?

Employment opportunities were to be created for the sole purpose of helping our youths who are well educated but are yet to find work to be employed. The president appointed the fifty three CASs but on which account were they appointed? Majority of them are renown businessmen and women who can fend for their families with ease. But even with that in mind, they are still appointed and enjoy a wholesome monthly salary of seven hundred and eighty thousand with a car grant, mortgage fee and a health cover all to be catered for by the already overtaxed and suffering mwananchi who has no tangible returns.

On the same, with demonstrations that are happening every Mondays and Thursdays as declared by the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, we may be wondering how on earth people can leave their jobs to protest on roads shouting at the top of their voices. It may be fighting for their rights, but it majorly shows the state of the nation and its youth. Ask yourself, how many youths could have taken to the street if they were employed and busy?

This sends a message; our youths need employment. We are not ready to see our youths sinking into deep pits of idleness considering the proverbial words that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. The government should not hesitate in creating these opportunities if they really care about the welfare of our youths. We have always termed how politicians operate when they win the elective posts as ‘the way politicians do when they take over government’ but when will the story change and a new beginning commence? If it is the government of the people by the people and for the people, then let it be so.

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