Licensed, accredited and registered Private Employment Agencies (PEAs) on 12-13 June were trained on International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) standards in Nairobi, Kenya by IOM. IRIS is a voluntary multi-stakeholder certification system for international labour recruiters developed by IOM and other partners to support ethical labour recruiters and ultimately transform the international recruitment industry to make it fair for workers, recruiters and employers. This is the second training held in Kenya, with the inaugural one held in March 2019.
"The Global Compact on Migration (GCM), adapted in December 2018, and has received active and full support from the Government of Kenya. As part of the GCM’s 23 objectives, two are directly related to the IRIS training: (6) Facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work, and (23) Strengthen international cooperation and global partnerships for safe, orderly and regular migration,” emphasized Michael Pillinger, IOM Kenya Chief of Mission.
The training was attended by seven PEAs drawn from ASMAK association for private recruitment agencies, which have been vetted and accredited by the National Employment Authority (NEA), an arm of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection responsible for licensing the PEAs to ensure that labour migration is safe and orderly. The objective of the training focused on enhancing the ability of the recruitment agencies’ to make a business case for ethical recruitment and enrich their understanding on the IRIS standards and certification process which interested agencies are expected to start in the near future. Three agencies from the first training have started the IRIS certification process that takes an average of six to twelve months.
Majority of Kenya’s migrant workers are in the Gulf Cooperation Countries specifically the United Arabs Emirate (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar and other countries like Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan through these recruitment agencies. “The labour market is shifting, we are now receiving requests from countries such as Poland and we have deployed about 200 workers in the last two months,” said Amos Mbugua, Director, Bluewave International Limited.During the Management System Framework exercise, the PEAs identified some gaps in their management systems such as lack of policies like worker commitment policy, risk management policy, reporting policies and procedures and alignment of policies, inadequate communication and information management guidelines, skills gaps, lack of allocation of budget for training, no monitoring mechanisms as well as gaps in governance.
The proposed solutions to these challenges include among others: development and alignment of policies, improved communication and information managed through development of communication protocol, proper signage, hotlines for migrant workers and suggestion boxes, budget allocation for training, development of recruitment manuals, defined and dedicated staff members, out in place monitoring mechanisms as well as governance policies.
In May 2019, NEA launched the Pre-Departure Handbooks and the “Kenya Labour Migration Information Website,” as a source of credible, factual and reliable information for prospective Kenyan migrant workers seeking employment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the State of Qatar. These efforts contribute to promoting safe, orderly and regular migration. The website can be accessed through (www.kenyamigrantworker.org). In addition, Kenya currently has the Migration Policy (draft) and is in the process of developing the Labour Migration Policy. There is a need to reach more Kenyans on the pre-departure handbooks and the migrant worker website and translating the content into the national language (Kiswahili) recommended one of the participants.
The IRIS Training was supported under the project “Promoting safe and fair labour migration from Kenya to the Gulf States” and funded by the U.S Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour. This ia a project implemented in partnership with Verité, a labour rights Non-Governmental Organization based in the US.