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Technology, a solution to Kenya's unending unemployment puzzle?

By James Irungu | April 11th 2019
By James Irungu | April 11th 2019

NAIROBI, KENYA: In today’s society, it is a well-known fact that it has become a difficult task for young adults to secure employment especially for those with minimum or no experience in the industry.

According to statistics from the World Data Atlas, Kenya’s unemployment rate of young adults at the age of 18-35 in 2018 stood at 11.4 per cent, which was an improvement from 11.5 per cent in 2017, but still, there is a huge number of individuals going without employment.

The frustration of not having an opportunity to acquire employment is an experience that has caused a lot of resentment to our modern-day youths with the rising cases of suicide.

This is where career advice can offer help and guide the young generation in the right direction to follow with their career.

Despite this being a step in the right direction to finding a permanent solution to reducing unemployment, it has also turned out to be a lengthy process with the youths having to get knocked back interview after interview, which has a negative impact on their self-esteem hindering them from pushing forward. There is a need to map out an effective solution to the problem.

With the digital economy taking over the world, this might be the untapped solution to unemployment. Kenya is one of the fastest in Internet consumption, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) the internet penetration is currently at its highest point with the overall usage been at 112 per cent, this has promised a wealthy and ready opportunities at the fingertips of witty brands who have taken full advantage of it in many ways possible.

Individuals have not been left behind, currently, according to Reuters, it is estimated that over 40,000 Kenyans have already secured jobs online from transcription to software developers and there is a rising number of individuals pursuing the online space with an expectation to rise by 2020.

It is estimated that the majority of Kenyans use 80 per cent of the internet to access their social media platforms and do online shopping. The internet, however, is a double aged sword and it depends on how one uses it. If used well it can bring massive solutions in the employment sector, for instance catching up with the digital economy to bring the right skills to the youths with the available learning resources that are readily available online, with this resources, youths are able to equip themselves with the right skills required by the modern day employers.

Impacting oneself with the right skills is essential to the market, currently, there are massive open online courses that the youths can access, courses like graphic design, photography and digital marketing are readily available on google that may lead to self-employment, this only needs discipline and patience.

Moreover, we all know how important networking has become in the modern-day world and the employment sector. Digital technology has made networking easier by providing online networking platforms with information on jobs, conference and various meet up opportunities. Further, being eloquent with digital platforms is a major booster in securing employment. 

Technology has massively helped in outsourcing online tasks to the youths, more than ever companies are sourcing labour globally through online market places. For example, Upwork, I-writer and a local online platform aimed to source out labour Ujuzy.com and other platforms have had over 3 million jobs posts annually, which have massively provided employment to the youths.  

Opportunities in the emerging technology can never be exhausted, as a positive tool, it can be used to encourage the youths to pursue digital entrepreneurship. Youths can now define, create and manage their own ventures – be it to maintain and service the technology itself through digital start-ups, online kiosks or even innovation of better industry solutions.

Unemployment is a global catastrophe that needs drastic measures to be solved, taking concreate steps through digital technology can definitely help cultivate constructive solutions.

The writer is a media and Communications Professional.    

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