A third of chief executive officers (CEOs) expect to hire more workers this year on improving pace of business activities.
The CEOs said in a Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) survey that they will increase the number of employees this year, in a move that will stem the job losses witnessed at the start of Covid-19 economic disruptions.
“Approximately 33 per cent of bank and non-bank respondents expected their companies to hire in 2022,” said CBK in the survey report.
A majority (60 per cent) expect to retain their current staff numbers to achieve efficiency even as economic activities rise from Covid-19.
The confidence raises prospects for thousands of job seekers and also signals some job security for the current workforce.
The survey polled CEOs of 356 private sector firms including 38 commercial banks and 302 non-bank institutions such as hotels.
The increased prospects for hiring more workers come on the back of 66 per cent of the CEOs expecting economic gains as a result of easing of Covid-19 restrictions locally and globally.
Bank CEOs said they expect to hire more people to support expansions and to grow new products.
This follows the industry’s 11-month pre-tax profit hitting Sh178.8 billion - a record high for the sector, having overtaken pre-pandemic levels in October.
The transport sector led in the employment optimism with 58 per cent of the surveyed CEOs expecting to hire more workers.
“Transport sector respondents expected increased employment with increasing demand for services,” said CBK.
The sector was among the key beneficiaries of the State’s decision to lift a nationwide curfew and allow resumption of full passenger capacity.
About 48 per cent of CEOs drawn from the tourism sector are also expecting to increase their workforce in line with the recovering pace of business.
Hotel respondents told CBK they expect business to continue picking up slowly with the easing of restrictions and good uptake of vaccines.
“Other non-bank respondents expected increased job opportunities with business expansions as a result of increasing demand,” CBK said. The findings are good news for workers and those seeking employment given the rampant job cuts from March 2020 when Kenya reported its first case of the infectious virus.
About 1.72 million workers lost jobs in the three months to June 2020 when Kenya imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Twenty-two per cent of the CEOs had laid-off workers in the first quarter of last year as the State’s Covid-19 control measures hurt demand for goods and services.
But recovery has been reported across sectors following the removal of measures such as curfews and lockdowns, which had hurt the pace of business activities.
The 2022 optimism, however, could be reversed if the election environment is not peaceful.
Forty-seven per cent of the CEOs interviewed cited political risk as to the main threat to the prevailing economic optimism.