500 men apply for 'women's' Saudi nursing jobs

Florence Bore

Ministry of Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore during a past event.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The 2,500 nursing jobs secured by the Kenyan government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have attracted only 1,000 applicants, of which a surprising 500 are male, despite the jobs being exclusively for women.

The remaining 2,000 posts are expected to be filled by the end of the month, after 500 qualified women have been recruited.

The vacancies were announced in July 2023 via the National Employment Authority's portal.

As part of the deal, hired fresh graduates will receive a monthly salary of Sh150,000, with experienced nurses earning more through negotiation. 

The package includes accommodation, health insurance, food and leave days in line with international labour laws.

Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore stressed the need for Kenyans seeking employment abroad to secure passports on time, citing challenges in filling job orders due to delays in obtaining the crucial document.

She highlighted ongoing efforts to sign bilateral labour agreements with 19 countries to secure over 1,000,000 jobs for locals in the diaspora.

Kenya has already signed agreements with Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

"Of the more than four million Kenyans abroad, 200,000 work in Saudi Arabia. In comparison, the Philippines has over a million people working in Saudi Arabia. There are many opportunities for Kenyans in the Kingdom that we are negotiating," Ms Bore told the Nation from New York on Monday.

While Saudi Arabia is a major destination for Kenyans seeking work, it has been criticised for allegedly mistreating them.

Ms Bore acknowledged past challenges, particularly with domestic workers, but said Kenya was addressing the concerns. 

"We have since streamlined the myriad of issues that have arisen with domestic workers and those working in other sectors in Saudi Arabia and we have no new cases of conflict," Ms Bore said.

She said the Ministry of Labour was working to ensure the seamless export of workers, meet international standards and resolve conflicts with employers.

Ms Bore urged the private sector to also play a greater role in job creation, noting that the government was providing the necessary environment for investment and growth.

"It would be a lie to say that government alone can create employment opportunities for the ever-growing population. The private sector has an important role to play in creating opportunities, with the government providing the enabling environment for investment and growth," Ms Bore said.

She said ambassadors and high commissioners have been instructed to market Kenya as a tourist destination, seek employment opportunities for locals and secure markets for local agricultural produce and goods.

The government continues to promote technical training and skills development for job seekers to boost labour exports and increase foreign exchange remittances to the economy.

Kenya's diaspora remittances reached $4.19 billion in 2023, an increase of 4.0 per cent from the previous year, surpassing traditional foreign exchange earners such as tea and coffee.