2015/16 Yearbook Labour


A well-trained and highly-skilled work force that Kenya is endowed with gives the country a competitive advantage, not just in the regional but also in the continental and global markets. This is evidenced by the nearly three million Kenyans working abroad, a majority of them in America and Europe, and more in Asia.



The national human resource environment has witnessed significant developments since March 2013, when the new structure of government – the devolved system as provided for in the Constitution – took effect. A new regime under newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta was also installed.

Slightly more than six months earlier in July 2012, the Transition Authority had been formed to coordinate a smooth change of government structures and functions from a purely national system to the devolved approach was formed. This had significant human resource implications in the public sector.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) had been created in December 2011 to advise the Government on remuneration and compensation of public service workers. It started its work in January 2012 when the members were sworn in, but its activities would gain momentum from 2013 in light of the devolved government system, which had in essence led to a drastic increase in the number of public personnel, especially in the elected and nominated categories.

These two institutions became instrumental in effecting the necessary streamlining of the human resource management in the public service. At the same time, the Government expressed keenness to gain control of human capital development in the country by releasing a report on the status of the country’s manpower, as the starting point.

National Manpower Survey

On October 3, 2014, the Ministry for Labour, Social Security and Services unveiled the National Manpower Survey Basic Report, effectively making public the findings of a nationwide survey that had been carried out in 2010/2011 to determine the status of Kenya’s manpower.

The survey, conducted by the ministry and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), aimed to provide baseline information to be used in formulating and implementing relevant labour policies, and in formulating an Integrated Human Resource Development Strategy for Kenya.

The survey also sought to provide information to update the Kenya National Occupational Classification Standards (KNOCS) and to create a Dictionary of Occupations. These will help employers and human resource practitioners to define jobs and the requirements.

The specific objectives of the study were to take inventory and analyse characteristics and distribution of skilled manpower in every sector of the economy, including the diaspora; establish the number of vacancies and demands existing in the labour market; and determine manpower shortages or surpluses, and future requirements.

Thus, the survey was further designed to establish the capacity of local training institutions in offering various courses, and identify the intake and out turn of training institutions.

The National Manpower Survey was prompted by the fact that since 1988 when the last one was completed, no other similar study had been done locally, despite the reality that the labour market worldwide had witnessed tremendous changes in both demand and supply trends. An agreement between the five East African Community partners, which stated the need to undertake national skills inventories, gave the additional push for the survey.

Unlike the 1986-1988 manpower study that only scratched the surface, the 2010/2011 survey was comprehensive, penetrating deep into every sector and industry, and reaching far and wide to obtain sufficient and reliable data.

The 1986-88 survey had been confined to information on formal employees and employers only. It had, therefore, failed to recognise the contribution of the informal sector in generating employment. It also left out the diaspora, and further failed to capture the supply and demand dynamics in the labour market, including the trends in skills.

The 2010/2011 National Manpower Survey was thus designed to address the shortcomings of the 1986-88 study and provide more in-depth national manpower data.

The survey divided the target population into various segments to help gain more viable findings. It covered the public and private sectors, the informal sector, education and training institutions and the diaspora. Some 320 public sector establishments participated, grouped into Central Government (192), Parastatals (62), Local Governments (22) and Majority Control by the Public Sector (43).

In the private sector, the survey covered 43,236 establishments, classified as Limited Local Public Companies (463), Limited Foreign Public Companies (47), Limited Local Private Companies (18,211), Limited Foreign Private Company (356), Cooperative (4,747), Private Non-Profit-making Institution (3,226), Other Private Enterprises (12,047) and Others (4,139).

In education and training, a total of 1,985 institutions were reached by the survey as follows: Public (569); Sole Ownership (716); Partnership (167); Religious/Faith Based (158); Community (213); Others (159); Non Stated (3).

Among the key findings of the survey are the following:

  • Gender: There are significant disparities in the male-female ratios in the workforce, both in the public and private sectors. The female is generally less represented. About 61 per cent of the workers in the public sector are men, while 39 per cent are women. The private sector has proportionally less women at 32 per cent, as the men take up 68 per cent of the jobs.
  • Age: The workforce in the public sector is generally older compared to the private sector. In the public sector, more 58 per cent of staff are aged over 36, compared to the private sector where 60 per cent of the workforce are below 35;
  • Skill: In both the public and private sectors, the skill ratios are inconsistent with the international best practices. There is a decline in numbers in the skill areas of agriculture, livestock, fisheries and tourism, despite these being major sectors of the economy.
  • Unfilled positions: Most of the vacant posts are found in higher and middle level occupational groups. Interestingly, most skill shortages are witnessed in this same category;
  • Education: Of the workers in the public sector who have attained Form Four certificate, about 40 per cent are men and 28 per cent, are women. Of those who have a Bachelor’s degree, seven per cent were men and four per cent are women. In the private sector employees who had attained a Form Four certificate also made up the largest group.
  • Occupational distribution: In the public sector, the jobs with most workers fall under the “Technicians and Associate Professionals” category. About 42.5 per cent of the workers are in this group. Of the classified jobs, the category with the least proportion of workers is the “skilled farm, fishery, wildlife and related workers”. Only 0.7 per cent of public service workers are in this category. Among the groups with significant proportion of workers in the public sector are “service workers and shop and market sales workers” (21.2 per cent) and “professionals” (15.2 per cent.

In the private sector, “Elementary occupations” and “plant and machine operators and assemblers” are the job categories with the largest proportions of workers (17 and 15 per cent respectively). These are followed by those in “technicians and associate professionals” (12.3 per cent) and “professionals” (12 per cent) categories. A notable observation is the generally even distribution of job categories in the private sector, compared to the public sector. Thus, the scope of employment options is much wider in the private sector.

  • Vacant jobs and skill mismatches: The high number of vacancies in both public and private sectors against massive unemployment in the country is indicative of skill mismatches. In the public sector, the most vacancies are in the “technical and associate professionals” and “professionals” job categories. They account for 25 per cent and 19 per cent of the vacancies in this sector. The same categories account for the highest job vacancies in the private sector, except that here, “professionals” account for the higher proportion at 28 per cent and “technical and associate professionals” at 16 per cent. In both sectors, “skilled farm, fishery, wildlife and related workers” job category has the lowest number of vacancies.

In terms of economic activity, the most vacant jobs in the public sector relate to public administration, defence, and compulsory social security. These areas account for 87 per cent of the vacancies. The least vacancies are in arts, entertainment and recreation.

In the private sector, the least vacancies are expectably in public administration, defence and compulsory social security, these being generally public service jobs. The activity with the highest number of vacant posts are in human health and social work.

These findings provide indications of the areas in which there are highest and lowest demand for skills.

Nonetheless, the reasons for high numbers of vacant jobs are not all to do with lack of skill. In the public sector, for example, budgetary constraints and absence of authority to employ are two of the most common of the other reasons.

In the private sector, expansion and diversification were also provided as reasons for vacant slots, in addition to lack of skilled personnel.

  • Skills on demand: The skills that are of highest demand in the public sector are those to do with public administration, defence and compulsory social security at 73 per cent, followed by education at 12 per cent.

In the private sector, work concerning human health and social duties are the most demanded, followed by those in hospitality (accommodation and food services).

  • Skills in short supply: In the public sector, the occupational categories with the highest skills shortage are professionals, secretarial, clerical services and related workers, technicians and associate professionals, and service workers, shop and market sales workers accounting for 26 per cent, 18 per cent, 16 per cent and 15 per cent in that order. These shortages are consistent with the reality in Kenya that the new institutions that were created by the Constitution of 2010 demand higher levels of professionalism in the management of public affairs.

As stated in the National Manpower Survey Basic Report, “Also, some of the flagship projects under the Kenya Vision 2030… mainly require the services of professionals and technicians and associate professionals.” The high demand does not match the rate at which workers in these categories are produced, resulting in the shortage. More specifically, the jobs experiencing shortages in the public sector include teachers for secondary and technical institutes, auditors, tax assessors, chemical engineers and technologists, numerical clerks, and stenographers, among others.

In the private sector, skills shortages exist mostly in the major occupational categories of legislators, administrators and managers; secretarial, clerical services and related workers; and technicians and associate professionals. These account for 22 per cent, 18 per cent and 14 per cent of the skill shortages in that order. More specifically, specialised departmental managers, directors, chief executives, tax assessors, auditors, accountants, computing professionals and nursing and midwifery professionals are in short supply.

In Education and training, the greatest skills shortages are found in youth polytechnics, followed by private commercial colleges, technical training institutes and public universities. These jointly account for 86.7 per cent of the institutions suffering skills shortages in the training sector. The shortage is attributable to the rapid increase number of colleges and universities in the country, and the recently renewed focus on and expansion of youth polytechnics. In 2008, the capacity of the local training institutions was 622,846. Two years later in 2010, this figure had nearly tripled, at just over 1.7 million.

The manpower survey was the first step towards establishing a National Labour Market Information System. This will be a one-stop shop for storage, access, retrieval, and interrogation of data on various facets of human resource planning, development and utilisation.

Indeed, the survey established a percentage of workers whose jobs could not be classified under the current KNOCS, last revised in year 2000. This means that new occupations have emerged since then, and are therefore yet to be categorised.

Streamlining the Public Service

Harmonisation of Salaries and Job Evaluation in the Public Service: The Salaries and Remuneration Commission

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) was created in 2012 to set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all state officers, and to advise the National and County governments on the remuneration and benefits of all other public officers.

For a start, the commission has been engaged in two major undertakings since 2013: harmonisation of salaries in the public service; and job evaluation.

Four principles that have guided the commission’s work in these undertakings are:

  •    Ensuring that public service wage bill is fiscally sustainable;
  •    Making public service attractive so that it retains the skills required to execute its functions effectively;
  •    Promoting productivity and performance; and
  •    Building a transparent and fair environment in the public service.

Public sector wage bill

The public wage bill rose by 8.8 per cent to 450.0 billion in 2015, with the TSC wage bill registering a 10.5 per cent rise to Kshs160.7 billion accounting for the largest share of public sector wage bill in 2015.

The share of the National Government wage bill to the total public sector wage bill was 20.1 per cent in 2015. County governments registered the highest increase of 14.8 per cent in earnings in the public sector, rising from Kshs62.0 billion in 2014 to Kshs71.2 billion. Parastatals and corporations with majority control by the public sector each recorded an increase of 5.6 per cent.

To address the wage bill challenge, SRC embarked on a salaries and allowance review in 2013. The commission involved the public in the search for ways to address the shooting wage bill. These discussions happened between March and April 2014 in all the 47 counties. The commission further held a Speaker’s Forum in October, 2013 on the same matter.

Public sector wage, benefits policy

The SRC published the Public Sector and Remuneration and Benefits Policy, giving specific guidelines on an effective remuneration and benefits system in public service.

The President’s directive that all jobs in parastatals be reviewed and evaluated was informed by this policy.

Guided by this policy, SRC initiated a comprehensive job evaluation within the public service in 2015, to go on well into 2016. The exercise is meant to establish the worth of public service jobs, and therefore provide grounds for setting the right remuneration ranges for public servants. The job evaluation is ultimately aimed at reducing the compensation ratio between the highest paid and the lowest paid public servants in the country.

This exercise is expected to have several trickle-down effects, starting with the offer of competitive salaries for the expected work, which in turn, will increase job satisfaction in the public sector, raise individual staff performance and productivity of the entire public service, and promote retention of talent.

The job evaluation will further form a strong foundation for recruitment in the public sector, aid in advising on training needs, performance appraisals and manpower planning.

The job evaluation covers the Civil Service, commercial state corporations, service and regulatory state corporations, research institutions, public universities and tertiary education institutions, constitutional commissions, independent offices and teaching service, disciplined services and county governments.

Devolving human resource to the counties:

The Transition Authority

In March 2013, the Public Service Commission published Guidelines on Management of Public Officers Seconded to County Governments to advise county governments on how to manage the various categories of public officers seconded to them.

The guidelines thus provided a uniform standard of managing public officers seconded to the counties in the transition period, projected to take three years.

The implementation of this exercise fell under the Transition Authority (TA), specifically created to ensure a seamless transition of government functions and institutions to the newly created 47 counties. The Authority describes its core mandate as being to “facilitate the realisation of a devolved system of government through effective and efficient coordination of the transition process”.

On the aspect of reorganising human resource to fulfil county requirements, TA identified and deployed interim county transition teams to facilitate the setting up of systems in the county governments. These were: Interim County Executive Transition Team; Interim County Treasury Team; and Interim County Assembly Team. These were responsible for operationalising the County Executive, the County Treasury and the County Assembly, respectively, until their positions were competitively filled by the County Public Service Boards.

Further, the National Government Coordination Act establishes offices for national government administrative officers. They include, the office of the county commissioner, deputy county commissioner, assistant county commissioner, chief and assistant chief.

These officers coordinate national government functions at the counties, and so they report to the national government. To limit conflict of interest, these officers are required to consult and cooperate with the county governments in executing their duties, through the county inter-governmental forum established under Section 54(2) of the County Governments Act.

Categories of officers at county level

In view of these developments, there are four categories of officers performing duties at the county level. They include:

  1. Interim county transition teams
  2. Staff of former local authorities

iii. Civil servants in the county performing functions that have been devolved but which are yet to be gazetted and transferred by TA

  1. Officers coordinating national government functions in line with the National Government Coordination Act, 2013.

In July 2013, a total of 63,200 staff were transferred from ministries to the counties to perform devolved functions. Following this, 240 staff were identified for training on how to securely manage the sensitive human resource records at the counties. From June 2015, the one-month process of transferring human resource records from the national ministries to the counties began as a joint exercise overseen by the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the Transition Authority and the Council of Governor’s secretariat.

The transfer of these records would give county governments the full control of managing public officers performing devolved functions. This would also enable those officers to have their human resource issues addressed at county level.