The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the National Employment Authority (NEA) under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, trained, licensed, accredited and registered Private Employment Agencies (PEAs) on 24-28 February 2020 on International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS). 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 training was supported by the United States Department through Verité that has enhanced skills of more than 70 PEAs in Kenya on ethical recruitment, facilitated the launch of the “Kenya Labour Migration Information Website”. The website (which can be accessed through www.kenyamigrantworker.org) is 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. In addition, pre-departure handbooks were developed and published as well a labour migration stakeholders meeting took place
The participating recruitment agencies have been accredited by the government of Kenya through the NEA. Kenya exports the majority of its labour to the Gulf Cooperation Countries specifically the United Arabs Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar through recruitment agencies. To ensure that labour migration is safe and orderly, these agencies go through a rigorous accreditation process. Kenya has also signed Bi-lateral Labour Agreements (BLAs) with these countries.
“When labor recruiters operate ethically, their services provide enormous benefit to migrants and their communities, to the employers in need of foreign workers, and to businesses in countries of destination by providing much needed human resources. Kenya is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. In recent years, the government has made significant efforts to address the problem of trafficking, including launching a national referral mechanism, and issuing new requirements and a code of conduct for private labor recruitment agencies (Migration in Kenya: A Country Profile 2018, IOM).”
“The government of Kenya and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have introduced a tracking mechanism for Kenyan migrant workers to protect them from exploitation and reduce their vulnerability in the country of origin (Kenya) and destination (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)”, cited Mr. Bakari Beya, NEA . He encouraged the PEAs to consider IRIS certification to comply with international ethical recruitment standards that will give them a business advantage and ensuring the protection of migrant workers.
The lack of economic opportunities, unemployment and low wages are some of the drivers of labour migration amongst the youth in Kenya. “If the youth are unemployed and lack livelihood opportunities, they are vulnerable and at risk and PEAs play a vital role in ensuring they have a source of income as well as generate revenue for the country through remittances”, said Ms. Fujimura Yoko, IOM, Head of Sub-office, Mombasa.
PEAs should embrace ethical recruitment practices; this will open more opportunities in other markets besides the GCC for them and Kenyan migrant workers, increasing their profits and credibility. Cited Mr. Mwalimu Mwaguzo, Chairman, Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies.