Kenya: Four in Every 10 Kenyan Workers Under-Qualified, Says World Bank

Four in every 10 Kenyan workers are under-qualified for their jobs, a research by the World Bank shows, underlining the effects of discrimination and corruption in the job market.

The research found that only 30 per cent of workers had skills matching their jobs, with another 30 per cent said to be over-qualified for their roles.

“There is significant occupational mismatch in Kenya with a high share of workers considering themselves either under- or over-qualified for their jobs,” says the report.

Most job seekers usually rely on “who they know” and not educational qualifications to secure jobs owing to the high levels of competition for few vacancies. A higher number of women was found over-qualified for their roles compared to men. They also had a higher number under-qualified indicating greater prejudice at the workplace.

The research found there were no gaps in pay between gender in the formal market. Men earned more than women as informal wage workers.

Nepotism and tribalism have also been key factors in the Kenyan job market, especially in the public sector, leading to the mismatch as merit takes a back seat.

Bribery is also common in the public sector which is preferred by graduates owing to job security, less pressure and higher perks. With over two million job seekers in an economy that is creating an estimated 800,000 jobs annually, most people are willing to bribe to get on a payroll.

Family members in high ranks are viewed to have a social obligation to secure jobs for their kin. Corruption, nepotism and tribalism make it difficult for seniors to take disciplinary measures where there is under-performance arising from skill mismatch.

The World Bank found individuals from less wealthy households were confined to lower earning jobs compared to richer families.

“They are disproportionately engaged in self-employment and informal wage work, and in agriculture and low value-added sectors,” says the World Bank.

Rich families regularly call for favours from their peers to help their kin secure jobs or contracts which propel their enterprises. Higher education is expensive resulting to those from wealthy families getting an edge.

“These inequities appear to have increased over time, suggesting that the expansion in education at secondary and tertiary level has left poorer households behind,” says the Bank.

Introduction of the parallel system in universities has seen children from rich families enter the job market earlier as they take shorter periods to graduate.

Skill development is seen as time consuming, which explains why most companies opt to poach from rivals instead of grooming their own.

Source: The Nation