Working Paper: Assessment of Productive Employment Policies in Kenya

This Working Paper documents and assesses productive employment policies in Kenya. The main objective being to reflect on the current state of affairs, identify constraints and gaps among these policies. The paper is mainly based on desk-top research which reviews available literature and policy papers on employment in Kenya since independence in 1963 in order to determine how these policies have impacted on productive employment in Kenya.

The paper argues that the primary challenge in the labour market in Kenya is not unemployment per se but rather lack of productive employment and decent work among the poor population given that most of the population works in the informal sector. This population working in the informal sector tends to be vulnerable and has low productivity and low earnings, which effectively undermine the efforts for inclusive and sustainable growth. We use the framework related to productive employment to document and analyze different policies. While employment creation has been central in all government policies, the focus has largely been on increasing the number as opposed to the quality of employment creation. It is for this reason the informal economy has remained the main contributor of employment opportunities. Apparently jobs in the informal sector tend to be largely casual, temporary, low wage, and without effective job security.

The Agriculture and Manufacturing sectors have potential for creating employment but again the nature of jobs in these two sectors remain largely casual which compromises on productive employment. To promote productive employment, these sectors require increased funding and establishment of stakeholders’ consultative forums. There is also the need to attract FDI most of which come with better terms of employment compared to indigenous investments. 

This is volume 140 of the series ASCL Working Papers.

Read the Working Paper.

Author(s) / editor(s)

P. Kamau, B. Kinyanjui, A. Akinyoade & C. Mukoko

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Paul Kamau Paul Kamau
Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi


BethuelBethuel Kinyanjui
School of Economics, University of Nairobi


Akinyinka Akinyoade Akinyinka Akinyoade
African Studies Centre Leiden


Catherine Mukoko Catherine Mukoko
Kenya Association of Manufacturers