PRIVATE RECRUITMENT AGENCIES UNDER SCRUTINY AS GOVERNMENT AIMS TO REFORM LABOUR MIGRATION

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The government has embarked on reforms to tame high numbers of Private Recruitment Agencies with the aim of sustaining ethical recruitment practices in regards to labour migration.
Ministry of Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary (CS) Simon Chelugui said that the private recruitment agencies in the country played an important role in the management of labour migration hence a critical player to the government and all Stakeholders at large .
Addressing participants at a Nairobi hotel during the official launch of the multi-stakeholder technical committee on establishment of oversight and community feedback mechanism in the recruitment industry, Chelugui said that Kenya had put in place legal, institutional and policy framework to enhance safe, orderly, humane and mutually rewarding labour migration especially after lots of condemnation for the plight of Kenyans who seek greener pastures in the middle east where the grass is deemed to not be always green.
“Labour migration has immense socio-economic benefits to both countries of origin and destination. It is a source of employment and livelihood for migrant workers, bridges skill gaps in destination countries, supports skills development and transfer in the countries of origin and also a source of the much needed remittances in the migrant workers’ countries of origin,” said the CS.
He said that over the years, Kenya has continued to experience migration of citizens to different parts of the World, including Europe, United States of America, Asia, Latin America, Canada, Australia, Middle East and Gulf Region and selected countries in Africa such as Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, Botswana and South Africa. It is said that Kenya has lost a significant number of much needed professionals in the Medical field among other professions due to better remuneration.
“Since the bulk of those seeking for opportunities are youths who possess skills that are in demand in other countries, there is a need to effectively manage labour migration and to ensure protection of our migrant workers,” said Chelugui, noting that the migrant labour force also greatly contributes to the Kenyan economy.
“To put this in perspective, in Kenya, remittances in the last decade have significantly grown, reaching USD 3.1 Billion in 2020 compared to USD 104.6 Million in 2004. This has made Diaspora remittances to become Kenya’s highest foreign exchange earner. However, Kenya still lags behind Egypt (USD 29.6 billion), Nigeria (USD 17.2 billion) and Ghana (USD 3.6 Billion). Currently Kenya is ranked the fourth highest remittance-recipient country in Africa,” said the CS.
Chelugui added that the Government is currently finalizing modalities for export of trained Medical Professionals to the United Kingdom in efforts to create employment for the youth , a statement that seemed to contradict the Government’s move a couple of years ago in hiring Cuban medics to work in the country.
He added that other reforms instituted include establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to vet Private Recruitment Agencies , finalized development of labour migration policy, developed labour migration management bill and pre-departure training and orientation.
“In addition, the Ministry through our labour attachees are under instruction to conduct regular assessment of skills demand in the foreign labour market to increase job opportunities for Kenyans,” said Chelugui.
“I am aware that the committee we are launching here today has been informed of its mandate. Let me remind you that, your overall mandate is to ensure that no Kenya will be subjected to slavery and servitude out of our country, as a result of travelling for employment in the foreign market without proper contract documentation,” said Chelugui in what seemed as a reference to the middle East cases of abuse.
The CS said that he is informed that only 40 per cent of employment Agencies in Kenya are registered with the National Employment authority insisting that this must be corrected.
“We also need to see recruitment Agencies recruiting workers from all over our country, so that some regions are not disadvantaged,” said Chelugui. If at all these implementations turn out to be real as opposed to lip service then labour migration will indeed actualize the “greener pastures” theory.

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