KENYA: Kenyan government grapples with huge staff shortfalls in critical sectors

October 2017 Standardmedia; The civil service is contending with an acute shortage of workers in major sectors, including health and engineering.

A human resource skills audit based on the highest academic qualifications, area of specialisation, professional qualification, job, families and years of service conducted in 2015 revealed that the most affected sectors were health, engineering, information technology and architecture.

The report by the Inter-governmental Steering Committee for the Capacity Assessment and Rationalisation of Public Service 2015 (Carps) estimated deficits of 16,000 doctors – 11,336 medical doctors, 1,338 pharmacists and 2,916 dentists. There is also a shortage of 108,949 nurses, 32,756 clinical officers and 24,882 medical laboratory technologists.

“Although the report has been overtaken by events as it was meant to assist in transfer of staff from national to county governments, the issue of shortage is being addressed,” explained Margaret Kobia, the Public Service Commission (PSC) chairperson.

“A number of ministries have begun recruitment. We will continue the process in a number of ministries in order to address the shortages though we have to be careful not to affect the wage bill in any major way,” she added.

Despite the assurance by PSC, the shortages have affected mostly the health sector, which saw doctors go on strike for over 100 days. Nurses are currently on strike over payment and CBA negotiations.

“We have a huge shortage of medical staff in our hospitals. Right now more than 600 specialists have left the counties. Three hundred left for specialist training while a similar number has joined the private sector in the past three months,” said Ouma Oluga, the secretary general of Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.

“The Government has also failed to absorb 1,000 doctors currently ready for the job market, yet during the strike they were ready to ‘import’ doctors from Tanzania.”

Approximately 45 to 50 per cent of the medics are on temporary terms of service. “Less than five counties employed doctors on contract including Kiambu, Mombasa and Busia. So far, Kiambu is yet to resolve the matter,” said Dr Oluga.

According to the country’s strategic paper 2014-2018 (African Development Bank), there is an estimated gap of about 30,000 engineers, 90,000 technicians and 400,000 artisans.

Priority jobs

In public service, there are only 1,860 engineers; more than 900 of them are aged 50 years and above. The shortfall is partly caused by a freeze on employment in the civil service.

There is also a serious shortage of technical and professional skills in priority job categories.

There were only 201 architects employed in the civil service as at 2015. Some 87 of them were over 50 years old.

Mainstream civil service has 168 geologists; 70 are above the age of 50. And despite a large number of qualified lawyers in the country, the civil service faces an acute shortage due to inability to attract and retain them.

Further, out of the estimated 200,000 civil servants in both national and county governments, 26,743 have primary school education and below.

The majority of lowly educated public servants are in security, social, rehabilitative and office services.



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