Where to find a job: Here are sectors employing most Kenyans


The data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that, over the past decade, job creation in construction and education sectors grew the most.

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In a decade marked by massive investment in public infrastructure and the popping up of thousands of high-rise buildings in towns nationwide, Kenya’s construction sector grew the most in terms of jobs creation, a Nation analysis shows.

The analysis on trends in Kenya’s employment sector, capturing official data on formal sector employment between 2012 and 2021, shows that overall jobs created in the construction sector grew by 95 per cent. Jobs created by private players in the sector more than doubled from 98, 700 in 2012 to 217,300 in 2021.

The data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that, over the past decade, job creation in construction and education sectors grew the most.

Education employed a total of 609,200 Kenyans in 2021, up from 384,800 in 2012. This translates to about 25,000 new jobs annually over the past decade. This is corresponding to the high number of education graduates coming out of universities, with a Commission for University Education (CUE) report in 2017/18 indicating that education had most graduates at Bachelors level.

“The top three domains with the highest number of graduates at Bachelors level were education (26 per cent) followed by business, administration and law (25 per cent) and natural sciences, mathematics and statistics (12 per cent),” the CUE report showed.

An overall analysis shows that six sectors have dominated Kenya’s employment sphere since 2012, offering at least 71 per cent of all the formal jobs in the country. Other than education and construction, others are manufacturing, public administration and defence, agriculture and trade (wholesale and retail). Together, the six sectors employed 2.09 million people out of the total 2.9 million Kenyans employed formally in 2021.

Employing 336,800 people by 2021, Kenya’s manufacturing sector has grown by about 25 per cent in a decade, from employing 271,000 people in 2012.

The wholesale and retail sector has also expanded hugely, recording a 30 per cent growth to employ 256,300 persons by 2021.

While it has contracted by 0.15 per cent from 2012 to 2021, the agriculture sector still remains one of the sectors employing most Kenyans throughout the past decade, with 337,200 employed by 2021.

The data shows that the six sectors have a huge share of contribution to Kenya’s economic growth, and are a pointer to areas institutions of higher learning can channel resources in training students, to improve their employability.

Kenya’s private sector continues to support the economy with provision of most jobs. Among private sectors that have exhibited huge growth in job creation over the past decade are construction (120 per cent growth), education (97 per cent), information and communication technology (57.4 per cent), human health and social work (44.6 per cent) and financial and insurance activities (30 per cent).

Mr Collins Chacha, head of sales and marketing at Villa Care Kenya Limited, a real estate firm, believes that the huge growth in construction jobs can be attributed to the growth in Kenya’s real estate over the past decade.

“Real estate is one of the primary economic activities in the country. A home needs a lot of maintenance and upkeep. There always be need for a gardener, construction workers and home repair workers,” Mr Chacha says.

The biggest employers in the private sector remain manufacturing (313,500 jobs by 2021), agriculture (295,300 jobs in 2021), wholesale and retail (256,300 jobs in 2021), construction (217,300 jobs) and education (210,600).

By 2021, at least 132,100 people were employed in the ICT sector, 106,700 in the social work sector and 66,800 in the financial and insurance sector.

On the other hand, in the public sector education remains the biggest employer, providing 398,600 jobs in 2021, followed by public administration and defence —police, prison and military — which together employed 329,800 officers in 2021 and social work (47,400).

Sectors creating large numbers of jobs in the public sector over the past decade have been public administration and defence (59 per cent), social work (53.4 per cent) and education (43.4 per cent).

Egerton University recently announced plans to discontinue eight degree programmes it deemed unnecessary, pointing to a route more universities could be taking soon.

“As part of reorganising the institution we are scrapping some eight degree courses that have failed to attract enough students to sustain them despite having hired lecturers for them,” Egerton Vice-Chancellor Isaac Kibwage said.

The Universities Fund is also pushing to have universities allocated funds based not on just the number of students they enrol, but also how the training they offer graduates benefits them in the job market.