Unemployment in Kenya: University degree does not guarantee employment

Unemployment in Kenya: University degree does not guarantee employment

In Kenya, the unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labor force.

The unemployment rate in Kenya increased to 6.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021, against 5.4 percent in the previous quarter.

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This is higher than in the first quarter of 2020 when 5.2 percent of people aged 15-64 years were unemployed.

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 It means that the chances of a university graduate landing a job this year are slim. The number of Kenyans with at least a degree has never hit the one million mark to date.

This statistic would make you think that because there are fewer graduates the employment rate is high right? Wrong! The largest source of employment in Kenya right now is the agricultural sector accounting for 53.8 percent of the total employment.

 What will happen to those people who graduated with degrees or certificates in other sectors? This is why the number of people working informal sectors is higher than that of people working in informal sectors.

Construction works, transport, and communication works among others have become the only options for many educated people. It is not a surprise to find a degree-holding matatu driver or a certificate-holding tout.

The other factor that would make a graduate jobless is a lack of proper connections. These days you have to know somebody that knows somebody for you to get into business.

We can try to cover up this issue as much as possible but we still know what goes on behind closed doors. People who rely on their skills and knowledge end up choosing options they never expected just so they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

As a student who is almost graduating, I feel the pressure of having to look for a job as early as now so I don’t stress tarmac as much after graduating. Most of my seniors have not even found places to go to for the mandatory attachments and this is scaring everyone including my parents who expect a lot from me.

This situation could be an aftereffect of the Covid-19 pandemic where even the veteran employees were laid off and more is yet to be seen with the new strain ‘ Omicron variant’. Self-employment is the ‘sent from heaven’ solution because with the rise of small businesses the country’s economy is still strong.

With small businesses, we don’t even need to open up a shop, we just need our houses or even the streets. A small business many times isn’t something we learn from college or university, it is a skill you learn and turn into a money-making venture. These businesses bloom into companies if you become patient and consistent.

Brenda Wangui is a Journalism Student at KCA University, brendambuthia13@gmail.com

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