The pace of green job creation is accelerating, fast tracking Kenya’s transition towards a low-carbon economy, becoming an engine of development. Eight economic sectors play a central role in the growth of the green jobs sector: agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy, resource-intensive manufacturing, recycling, building and transport.
Investment to create green jobs is one side of the jobs coin; training and skill building is the other. Both are necessary to bring green employment to its full potential. Shortages of skilled labor could put the brakes on green expansion. Kenyan youth experience skill gaps that set them back in their transition into the employment sector.
Access to training is a major constraint among rural people in Kenya. Training workers in entrepreneurship skills is vital in order improve their employability and livelihood opportunities, as well as to reduce poverty, enhance productivity and promote environmentally sustainable development. Entrepreneurship training through the County Waste Management Entrepreneurship Hubs of the Taka Taka ni Mali initiative can be used to help small firms to identify green business options and turn environmental challenges into new business opportunities.
Major shifts in employment patterns and skill profiles are expected. Innovation is a key consideration as we stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.
The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century.
These possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.
By providing better income opportunities a greener economy can make a significant contribution to poverty reduction. This is particularly the case for millions of smallholder farmers in Kenya. Investment to enable farmers to adopt practices that have a much lower environmental impact but which are more productive and provide better market access should be of consideration.
Improved incomes are equally possible for tens of thousands of Kenyan informal waste pickers currently in precarious and hazardous jobs with current incomes often below the poverty level. Experiences from Colombia, Brazil & other countries show that the formalization and organization of these workers and their integration into a modern recycling system has significant economic, social and environmental benefits.
Billions of people in developing countries have no access to clean modern energy. Greater efforts to promote affordable renewable energy can make a major contribution to overcoming energy poverty and the lack of access to energy. Moreover, they can also create badly needed employment and income opportunities in the production of energy and even more so through the use of that energy.
Without timely action, many jobs could be lost due to resource depletion, biodiversity loss, increasing natural disaster impacts, and other disruptions. Climate-proofing the economy will involve large-scale investment in new technologies, equipment, buildings, and infrastructure, representing a major stimulus for much-needed new employment as well as an opportunity for retaining and transforming existing jobs.