Classified as a lower middle-income country by the World Bank since 2014, Kenya’s current Human Development Index score is 0.590, ranking it 142nd in the world. Despite an apparent reduction in income inequality over the past two decades, 36.1 per cent (16.4 million) of the population live in overall poverty. In 2019, Kenya’s economic growth averaged 5.7%, placing Kenya as one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The recent economic expansion has been boosted by a stable macroeconomic environment, positive investor confidence and a resilient service sector. However, Kenya’s economy is now being affected by supply and demand shocks on external and domestic fronts, thus interrupting the recent broad-based growth path. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified these domestic economic challenges. 

In 2017, Kenya’s working age population (between the ages of 15 and 64) was estimated at around 27 million. The same year, labour force participation stood at 66.8 per cent and the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent. Employment opportunities in the informal economy largely outstrip those in the formal sector. 787,800 jobs were created in the informal economy while only 100,000 jobs created in the formal sector. Men comprise the largest proportion of employees in the informal economy (known locally as “Jua Kali”) and more than two thirds of informal jobs are in trade, production and related services such as repairs and maintenance, or in restaurants and hotels. Persons with either no or little education are more likely to work in informal Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) than those with secondary or higher education. 

Together with the Kenya Vision 2030 plan for long-term development, the constitutional reform of 2010 included the reform of technical vocational education and training (TVET) in the country. However, insufficient financial resources and inadequate capabilities have constrained its proper implementation. A fragmented legal framework and duplicating responsibilities (both at the central and at operational levels) have also slowed down the reform. The skills mismatch and the resulting negative impact on the employability of the Kenyan population are due to a weak link with the industry, the lack of capacity to generate and utilize Labour Market Information (LMI) in a timely manner and the slow integration of digital skills in the TVET system. 

Challenges related to informality and formalization in Turkana County, Kenya
Publication Date: 22 Dec 2022
Source: ILO
The study gathered important information from key stakeholders on: challenges of informality; current, planned or potential initiatives to reduce vulnerabilities and improve services and support to actors in the informal economy in Turkana County; the challenges and threats to the formalization of actors in the informal economy in Turkana County; and the opportunities to formalize the informal economy in Turkana County.

This report details the findings of this study in a clear and succinct way with a view creating dialogue among the stakeholders involved in addressing the challenges of informality in Turkana County.
Review of national policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks, and practice in Kenya
Publication Date: 22 Dec 2022
Source: ILO

The report reviewed national legislature, policy documents, datasets and grey literature to establish the legal basis for refugees’ access to work and their rights at work. Findings from the literature review were verified and triangulated with field work to establish how the laws are understood and implemented in practice. Field work lasted from August to October 2021 and included key informant interviews with stakeholders in government, private sector, humanitarian and UN agencies, and focus group discussions with refugees and host communities in Nairobi and in the two target counties, Garissa and Turkana.

The report will guide implementation of PROSPECTS Partnership activities and would feed into the design of integrated interventions that promote decent work for refugees and host communities in Kenya. It would further inform the policy dialogue on the access of refugees to the labour markets and its recommendations.

It is undertaken in conjunction with similar baselines drawn up in Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq, Egypt, Uganda and Ethiopia.
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A market systems approach to skills development
Publication Date: 25 Jul 2022
Source: ILO
Enterprises can drive business success and support inclusive economic growth by making investments into educating, training and reskilling of workers. Workers also face an imperative to proactively upgrade their skills or acquire new ones through training, education, and lifelong learning to remain employable, especially in the face of rapid transformation brought about by advances in automation and digitalisation.

A market systems approach to skills development has the potential to lead to more sustainable employment outcomes at scale, by taking a holistic approach to addressing both supply- and demand-side factors, as well as tackling the cost of skills development programmes and strengthening the link between market needs and the important role of regulation and standards.

Drawing on three case studies, this paper explores how a market systems development (MSD) approach to skills development can lead to employment outcomes and foster sustainable impact through systemic change that is owned, maintained, and further evolved by local stakeholders.
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Skills and labour market transitions for refugees and host communities
Publication Date: 17 May 2022
Source: Bilateral organizations-United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Labour Organization (ILO), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Finn Church Aid (FCA), ILO

This study is a joint collaboration of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Labour Organization (ILO), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Finn Church Aid (FCA) to identify good practices related to access to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes for refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), as well as their host communities, and their transition to the labour market.

The study reviews TVET systems and programmes implemented by national ministries, private sector actors, development agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across five countries - Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda – prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created additional challenges for the livelihoods and inclusion of forcibly displaced people around the world.

Monthly newsletter of the ILO SKILLS Branch - September 2022
Date: 30 Sep 2022
Sources: ILO

The ILO Skills and Lifelong Learning monthly newsletter highlights recently uploaded publications, reports, research items, videos and upcoming events on skills development and lifelong learning.

Sign up to receive the Newsletter by clicking here.

ILO Inter-regional workshop on enhancing youth employability and easing labour market transitions
Date: 18 - 20 May 2016
Sources: ILO

The Youth Employment Programme and Skills and Employability Branch are organizing a regional workshop on the theme of enhancing youth employability and easing labour market transitions. This three-day interregional event is part of a series of ‘What Works in Youth Employment’ Knowledge Sharing Events to facilitate learning and dialogue through evidence-based ‘good practices’.

The objective of the workshop is to bring together stakeholders (including our tripartite constituents) from nine African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia) in an interactive forum for exchange and peer learning with guidance from technical experts on effective, replicable and scalable supply side initiatives that address employability, skills demand, anticipation of skills needs and the bridges between supply and demand. A report based on exchanges and lessons learned during the workshop will be produced.