The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection has signed bilateral labour agreements with seven countries to assist qualified unemployed Kenyans to secure jobs abroad.
Labour Cabinet Secretary (CS) Florence Bore said so far, seven agreements have been signed adding that the initiative would benefit thousands of Kenyans in different cadres as the government moves to address rising unemployment in the country.
Among the agreements signed, she said, was between Kenya and Saudi Arabia where about 130, 000 opportunities have been identified for qualified Kenyans to tap into.
Kenya, she added, was looking beyond the gulf countries which have traditionally absorbed Kenyan workers to ensure that as many Kenyans as possible benefit from the programme.
She disclosed that negotiations were at an advanced stage with Canada, South Korea and Germany to secure more job opportunities.
“Germany will be here next week. They have assured us that they have about seven million jobs. This is huge and we want our people to benefit,” she said.
To make the programme a success, the CS said the ministry was working on packaging job seekers to ready them for the available opportunities abroad.
“What we have as a country is the human resource. People have graduated with various degrees and courses but do not have jobs. We want to sell this out there and be able to secure opportunities for them,” she said.
She added that the ministry was in the process of reviewing existing bilateral labour relations with different countries to safeguard Kenyans working outside the country.
This comes against the backdrop of Kenyans being tortured and mistreated abroad with the CS assuring that they were reviewing targets to address teething problems affecting the programme.
Through the initiative, the government aims to ensure that all Kenyans who secure jobs abroad are put in the right cadres, get the right salaries and work in a conducive environment.
Bore added that the government was equally developing a National Labour Policy and a National Labour Management Bill to regulate and control recruitment agencies.
This, she disclosed, has seen the number of registered recruitment agencies reduced from 900 to 500 adding that vetting would continue to ensure that only agencies that meet the set standards are allowed to operate.
Speaking at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu during the World Day for Safety and Health celebrations, Bore asked all unemployed Kenyans to register with the National Employment Authority to benefit from the opportunities being sought abroad and within the country.
Over the last one year, she said 177 Kenyans died while an additional 4, 398 suffered injuries while at work.
During the same period, she disclosed 741 workers were reported to have contracted occupational diseases.
“We gather here today in solidarity with our fellow workers to remember those who have lost their lives and those who have suffered while at work. Let the gospel of prevention of this loss of human resource be amplified,” she said.
She called for the institution safety measures at the work place to guarantee safety and health for all workers in the country.
“When we reduce injuries and accidents at the places of work we are able to save what we spend on the injuries and use it on other things,” she said.
Bore said the Ministry of Labour has partnered with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to enhance occupational safety and health at work.
Various government departments, state agencies, private sector firms and the jua kali sector were feted for enhancing safety and health at the workplace.
By Chris Mahandara