As the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the Kenyan job market, demand for health and safety jobs is rising.
Data from recruitment agency BrighterMonday shows that advertisements of the above mentioned jobs have gone up by 700 percent since March.
Kenya reported its first case of Covid-19 infection on March 12, triggering demand for healthcare workers and safety experts as organisations moved in to combat the pandemic.
“Trades and services (327.7 percent), agriculture and farming (170 percent) and real estate and property management (125 percent) also recorded growths,” the BrighterMonday report shows.
Others are quality control and assurance (113.7 percent), engineering (111 percent), medical and pharmaceuticals (94.7 percent), transport and logistics (52.8 percent), Information Technology and software (33.9 percent).
This comes at a time when companies were implementing job cuts as well as freezes on appointment of existing and new positions due to tough economic times.
In March, the government imposed stiff lockdown measures such as social distancing, a ban on international as well as local flights and night curfews (7pm to 5am) to curb the spread of the virus.
Consequently, this affected firms in the service, aviation, travel and tourism sectors as the number of customers dropped substantially. Under the circumstances, most firms shed jobs to stem their losses.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that 18.1 million people were employed as at the end of December 2019, but the number fell to 15.87 million in June, translating to 2.23 million jobs lost between December 2019 and June.
Young people were the hardest hit by job cuts compared to their counterparts aged above 35 years in an economic setting that is plagued by a hiring freeze on the back of sluggish corporate earnings.
BrighterMonday’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Emmanuel Mutuma says the job market fell by 58 percent during the first months of the pandemic.
“At least 50 percent of companies that advertise with us-especially senior level positions-put on hold recruitments,” Mr Mutuma says.
“But, I can see changes on the graph as hirings are slowly picking after President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted some of the restrictions,” he says.
The Brighter Monday survey mirrors another conducted by American professional networking and career development social site LinkedIn showed that 83 percent of jobs advertised on its platform between June-July were registered nurses, delivery drivers and store associates.
“Others are salesperson, software engineer, financial advisor, cashier, training supervisor and project manager,” it shows.
Jobs in demand (Mar-Sep 2020)
Health and safety recorded the highest growth in Job listing
Demand for digital talent
“Maybe they were a hardware or a brick and mortar shop selling their merchandise in some shops everywhere and now they need to sell them online. They need new skills and a digital marketer as no one in the organisation actually has the capacity or skills or knowledge to get the right talent,” he adds.
He adds that the company now conducts job interviews online after shifting from physical one-on-one interviews previously.
“During virtual job interviews, we guide participants on how to smartly dress, have good internet connections and test their interview tools to prevent technical hitches,” he says.
“However, you cannot forget the physical meeting and the power of that. It has its advantages as well as disadvantages.”
Unpopular jobs in the period Mar-Sept 2020
Kenya has so far lost more than 751 individuals to the virus from 40,178 who have tested positive. This comes on the back of a phased re-opening of the economy that experts warned could cause a second wave thus driving demand for health and safety workers.
President Uhuru Kenyatta early last month allowed bars to reopen while secondary and primary schools have reopened this week.
Learners will be expected to wear face masks, have their body temperatures checked, and observe high levels of hygiene.