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Exportable labor: an unemployment solution

"In June 2010 Kenya's Sports and Youth Affairs minister announced that Kenya would send at least 10,000 youths to work abroad under the government's plan to check youth unemployment. She told parliament that 390 young people had been employed in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan under the programme established in 2008.

"Five years earlier, Uganda’s Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant Workers Abroad) Regulations legalised the export of labour from Uganda by providing statutory instrument requiring that all jobs to be taken up by Ugandans be approved by External Employment Unit of the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Since then, the Two Niles Agency, one of eight licensed labour export firms, has taken 403 Ugandans to work in the Middle East.

"Exportable labor, measured by the locally unemployed and underemployed gives far larger estimates of exportable labor than otherwise focusing on the skilled unemployment whose export is feared to constitute brain drain."

Implications from Institute for the Future:

Creating new methods of quantifying what exportable labor consists of helps make policy about migrant labor more possible. Migrant labor is nothing new, so to see governments taking strides to legitimize and regulate these movements is a great step forward.

Kenyan youth volunteering to move to Afghanistan and Iraq for work is a sign of how desperate the situation is. Unlike Americans who are typically motivated by either excessively high pay or peacebuilding, It is safe to say that Kenyan youth traveling to Afghanistan face drastically lower pay, less security detail, and most likely are not motivated by the desire to help Afghanistan, but to earn a living. Is this program a sign of Kenya's inability to help their own youth or the legitimizing of an old tradition?

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