By Sofia Ali
At least more than one million Kenyans have lost their jobs following the Covid-19 pandemic that have debilitated many businesses.
Speaking during the launch of the Informal Sector Skills and Occupation Survey report, the Cabinet Secretary, Minister of Labour and Social Protection Simon Chelugui, said that 11.9 million people, mostly youths are employed in the informal sector while 2.9 million people are in the formal sector. He further explained that majority of those that lost their jobs are working in the informal sector. “The survey indicated that 300, 0000 thousand Kenyans have lost their jobs, but the informal sector has been the hardest hit with the number of those affected projected to hit 1.2 Million.” Said the CS.
CS Chelugui sited that the survey indicated lack of skills led to many youth joining the informal employment. The report indicated that the number of informal sector enterprises was estimated at 5 million. “Our country continues to grapple with the challenge of unemployment and under-employment manifested by the inability of the formal sector to generate enough jobs, especially among the youth. Currently, about 1 million jobseekers enter the labour market annually, while only 800 thousand can be absorbed .The bulk of these jobseekers are absorbed by the Informal Sector which has become a key driver of economic growth in our country” said Chelugui
According to the 2020 Economic Survey, the informal sector continues to provide the bulk of employment opportunities in the country employing over 15 million people, which was about 83.4% of the total employment with wholesale and retail trade (59.9%), manufacturing accounting for 20.2 percent, Social and Personal Services 9.71 percent and transport 3.1% contributing most of employment opportunities in the sector.
Chelugui stated that the introduced a raft of measures to contain its spread of the pandemic , which include; Stay and work from home advice, cessation of movements in and out of some high-risk areas, dust to down curfew, travel restrictions, temporary closure of restaurants and bars and; social distancing advice, wearing od masks and regular washing of hands, has helped curb the spread of the virus.
“These measures have significantly contained the spread of the pandemic, but have also led to unintended outcome of job loss in the Kenya Labour Market especially in some of the Key sectors of our economy.” He said
The report also indicates that majority of respondents indicated the major difficulties that Enterprises face towards growth and development were inadequate capital or credit at 56.8 percent followed by difficulty in getting markets/customers for their goods at 11.2 percent .
The CS said that all stakeholders needed to come together and resolve the challenges these smes were facing including the youths in this country joining TVET institutions and informal sector training their employees. “Why are our youth shying away from TVET institutions, and why do informal sector employers shy away from training their employees.” Said CS Chelugui
“If our enterprises are to grow from informal to formal, then we need an urgent multi sectoral approach to resolve these challenges so we can witness faster formalization of informal sector enterprises in Kenya.
It is my hope and believe that the recommendations contained in this report will be immediately implemented by the relevant government agencies. I am also directing the department that prepared this report to immediately develop a cabinet memo on the issues that require cabinet direction” He further explained.