Firms must innovate to stem further job losses
Friday, September 4th, 2020
Besides loss of lives, the coronavirus pandemic has led to disruption of family routines and businesses, forcing the government to spend billions of shillings to help vulnerable individuals survive and put food on the table.
One of the painful consequences of the pandemic is loss of jobs and livelihoods.
A report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows the unemployment rate surged to 1.8 million from 961,666 in the First Quarter.
Worst-hit companies are in the tourism, transport, horticulture, communication and education sectors.
A number of hotels and airlines have been forced to halt operations while thousands of jobless teachers in private schools have resorted to odd jobs to eke out a living.
The Chinese contractor building the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) sent 4,013 Kenyans and 471 Chinese expatriates on unpaid leave.
At Kenya Airways, more than 700 employees lost their jobs while 1,932 private secondary and 8,000 primary schools released their employees. Media houses have also retrenched staff due to declining revenues.
This has led to thousands of Kenyans leaving key towns for their rural homes.
We are aware the government has instituted various measures including tax cuts to help cushion businesses and prevent job losses.
For instance, the ongoing Kazi Mtaani programme is meant to help youths who have found themselves jobless earn a decent living and mitigate effects of the pandemic.
While we understand and appreciate the difficult circumstances under which businesses are operating, authorities should be wary of the far-reaching socio-economic implications of the increasing levels of unemployment, especially national security.
Research has shown that there is a nexus between joblessness and crime levels.
Indeed experts have been warning that the rising numbers of educated but employed youth form a dangerous group that could easily be lured into criminal activity including violent robbery, drug-trafficking, money laundering or even terrorism.
This is why we are asking policy experts in government to give attention to threats posed by thousands of jobless Kenyans who have been released to the streets due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even then, we encourage business to be more innovative and device ways to protect jobs and cushion workers during this difficult period.