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World Bank says youth employment to drive economic growth in Kenya

English.news.cn   2012-12-06 13:35:02            

NAIROBI, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Expanding income generating opportunities for the youth is critical to enhancing economic progress, social cohesion and political stability in Kenya, a World Bank report launched in Nairobi on Wednesday said.

The report, "Kenya at Work, Energizing the economy and creating jobs", stresses that youth employment will accelerate economic growth and attainment of Kenya's Vision 2030.

"Kenya is in the midst of a critical transition evidenced by a dramatic shift from agriculture based to wage and service sector employment where the skills and expertise of the youth are in huge demand," the World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Johannes Zutt told journalists in Nairobi.

Zutt noted that Kenya has a dynamic youth population which should be tapped to propel economic, social and economic transformation in the east African nation.

He challenged the government to prioritize youth employment in the national development agenda.

"Kenya needs to create more jobs to cater for the large number of people entering the workforce. The country is on the verge of a significant demographic opportunity, as the working age population is increasing faster than the number of dependants, both young and old," Zutt said.

He added that Kenya's demographic dividend presents an opportunity for growth of modern and knowledge based economy. An estimated 800,000 Kenyans enter the working age annually yet only 56,000 are absorbed in the formal job market.

Zutt regretted that nepotism, corruption, sexual harassment and skills mismatch prevent the youth from securing well paid jobs.

The country director pointed out that upgrading skills alongside fighting graft and discriminatory practices will expand employment opportunities for the youth.

Kenya must maintain macroeconomic stability to create jobs for the burgeoning youthful population.

The World Bank report is categorical that the government should cushion the economy from internal and external shocks to spur investments that expands job opportunities for the youth.

Likewise, the report challenges the government to establish the right policy incentives to stimulate manufacturing and industrial growth.

"Kenya is at a strategic crossroads in the types of jobs the economy will create over the next 10 years. If it adopts export led growth policies, the manufacturing and industrial sectors will expand, create large number of jobs requiring high levels of skills and paying good wages," notes the World Bank report.

The report observed that information communication technology (ICT) and services sector will open new employment opportunities for the youth. The government has developed policies and long-term strategies to address youth unemployment.

"Efforts have been scaled up to create income generating activities for the youth in line with the new constitution and vision 2030 goals. Training and upgrading skills to meet the market demands are some of the interventions that have been prioritized," said the Economic Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Geoffrey Mwau.

Kenyan youth are an economic asset that should be harnessed fully to leapfrog the east African nation into a middle income economy.

A leading Kenyan industrialist, Chris Kirubi, emphasized on the need to overhaul curriculum in schools to enable the youth acquire both soft and technical skills that are needed in the modern job market.

"The emphasis should be how the youth can become job creators by optimally utilizing their innovative and entrepreneur skills," Kirubi said.

Editor: Hou Qiang
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