ILO Criticises Kenya's Employment Policy

The Nation (Nairobi), 4 October 2002

Job-creation the single most serious challenge, says Vocational Training minister

Nairobi—Kenya's employment policy has come under criticism by a top international labour body.

Despite spelling out what needed to be done to improve the situation in several sessional papers and development plans, the government had failed to link the human resources to the employers in the market, the International Labour Organisation said.

Dr George Ruigu, a deputy ILO director, said the huge Kenyan labour force, estimated at between 11 million and 15 million, required urgent measures to secure them jobs and reduce poverty.

Dr Ruigu made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by a senior official with the ILO, Mr Barrack Oduor-Otieno, in Machakos at a workshop on National Employment Policy and Strategy.

Mr Ngenye Kariuki, the minister for Vocational Training, said the employment-creation was the single most serious challenge facing the country.

He said despite government efforts to reduce unemployment, the problem was not expected to ease in the near future due to the rapidly expanding labour force and the slow economic growth.

Mr Yussuf Chanzu, an assistant minister in the Ministry of Labour, said it was time policy-makers put into practice policies reached at such forums.

He said in the last decade, there had been numerous seminars at which various resolutions were arrived at but there was little to show in terms of implementation.

Ambassador Joshua Terer, the Permanent Secretary for Labour, said there was need to introduce a work environment that would promote performance as an important criterion for adjusting workers' pay.

He, however, suggested that this should be done in cognisance of budgetary constraints.

The workshop was also addressed by the principal for legal and industrial relations at the Federation of Kenya Employers, Mr Jason Namasake, the director of human resource management and employment, Mr Johnston M. Kavuludi, a senior director in the Ministry of Labour, Mr Elijah Achoch, and a representative from the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu).