What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “informal skilled talent”?
The talent space in Kenya is largely divided between formal or “white collar” talent and informal talent. The formal talent system has well-established processes that govern talent sourcing and keep pipelines active with incentives for job seekers like job security, health benefits, pension among others. The informal talent sector, however, is still trying to catch up despite being a big contributor to the economy.
Informal skilled talent plays a significant role in Kenya’s dynamic employment landscape. These are qualified specialists, with artisan and craft skills seeking employment in their areas of specialization. They are your plumbers, painters, engineers, masons, designers etc, mostly with certificate or diploma level-qualifications.
The SME Space and the Opportunity for Informal Skilled Talent
Informal skills are often highly-specialised and tailored to specific industries and sectors like hotel and hospitality, transport and logistics, manufacturing, and agriculture. SMEs within these sectors depend on young and energized informal skilled talent to run their operations.
Informal skills also play a critical role in entrepreneurship and self-employment. Many individuals in Kenya start their businesses based on skills acquired through apprenticeships or on-the-job training. Starting a viable business in Kenya has its own set of challenges for skilled experts, and that is where SMEs come in.
SMEs in Kenya play an important role in job creation and economic development, accounting for 80% of employment and stimulating innovation and demand for new goods and services in the country. SMEs that require informal skilled talent in the sectors offer a simpler alternative to skilled experts looking for an alternative to entrepreneurship.
The Challenge of Managing Informal Skilled Talent
While established companies that hire white-collar talent have sophisticated systems to manage talent from recruitment to performance management. Talent management processes in most SMEs are pretty basic. In a majority of SMEs, priority is placed on core business functions and they lack the needed technology to give talent management a strategic angle in the business. They may also lack qualified staff to mitigate risks brought about by labor and tax laws. Thus, these SMEs need support with important business functions like recruitment, HR and payroll management, as well as business support Services.
Talent management in a business setting not only ensures that you get the right talent onboard, but also that you develop potential in employees and retain exceptional talent for increased business growth. It goes beyond the short-term value of bringing in manpower to run operations by taking a strategic angle that seeks to grow the company and the individual.
It is clear that despite their importance, informal skills are often undervalued and unrecognized. Individuals with these skills may not have the right soft skills to grow in their manoeuvre in the employment world. This can limit their opportunities for advancement and career growth.
To address these challenges, there is a growing recognition of the importance of informal skills in Kenya’s employment landscape. The government and private sector organizations are investing in programs and initiatives aimed at recognizing and validating informal skills.
Agencies like Bridge Talent are also stepping in by tapping into established and proven models to deliver talent outsourced services to companies so that they can focus on their core. On the other hand, skilled specialists get access to formal talent management services with opportunities for soft skills training, and exposure to career growth opportunities.
With an end-to-end platform that addresses all talent management areas effectively, solves real issues for all stakeholders and then leverages technology to help scale our business effectively, the future is bright.