Migrant workers agents ask government to set up digital recruitment portal

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Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA) chairman david Njoroge. PHOTO/JOSEPH MATHENGE

By DENNIS KIMANI

Kenya migrant workers recruitment agencies have asked the government to set-up a local digital recruitment portal to help streamline the recruitment processes.

Members of Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA) said currently the country was relying on a system being operated by a private company based in Saudi Arabia for recruitment of Kenyan workers seeking employment in the Gulf States.

“We want the government to set up a digital system for recruitment of Kenyans going to work abroad to help eradicate fraudulent activities that are currently going on,” KAPEA chairman David Njoroge, said.

Mr Njoroge said recruitment agencies taking employees to Gulf States were relying on the Musaned system which was being managed by a Saudi Arabia based private company.

He said due to lack of an electronic data system for Kenyans going to work abroad, KAPEA has faced difficulties in tracing Kenyans said to be missing in countries where they had been employed.

He asked the government to phase out the Musaned system and introduce a state controlled digital system to ensure there was readily available data on every Kenyan being employed abroad.

“Right now it is not possible to know where all Kenyans working abroad are based because we don’t have a proper electronic system to manage this data,” he said.

Mr Njoroge said such a system would be able to provide information on Kenyans going to work abroad, the country, city and location where they are based, their employers and foreign recruitment agents at a click of a button.

“Any Kenyan crossing our boarders to go and work in another country must be documented real-time because what we currently have is a shambolic system that is not working,” he said.

Mr Njoroge said a new electronic recruitment system for migrant workers would not only enhance efficiency in the processing of jobseekers but also preserve that data electronically.

“This will ensure we don’t have cases where Kenyans are fraudulently recruited to go and work abroad and without their data being captured by the Ministry of Labour,” he said.

Mr Njoroge said the current migrant workers system has a lot of loopholes which are being exploited by crooks to traffic Kenyans seeking jobs abroad.

Domestic labour recruitment portal Musaned was launched in 2015, by Saudi Arabia. It was then hailed as the “nucleus of the positive transformation of domestic labour recruitment services”.

Musaned introduced regulations and processes to streamline recruitment procedures for employers in Saudi Arabia.

Prospective employers are able to hire domestic workers without the need to visit a recruitment agency. They can obtain a domestic worker e-visa from Musaned in no more than three days, provided they meet certain financial, social and legal criteria.

The portal provides a database of hundreds of profiles of licensed Saudi recruitment agencies. Each profile includes a list of countries from where domestic workers hail, the cost of recruitment, and the expected waiting period.

Musaned allows employers to submit preferences for age, religion, and previous work experience to the recruitment agency of their choice. In response, agencies provide customers with up to five CVs of domestic workers to choose from.

Once a decision is made, the employer can proceed with paying recruitment fees and signing an e-contract with the recruitment agency. This e-contract is distinct from the contract between the employer and the domestic worker, which is often signed in the origin country between the Saudi agency (on behalf of the employer) and the domestic worker before she or he arrives in the Kingdom.

The processing steps are as follows: Saudi agencies submit an application to the domestic worker’s embassy in Riyadh for review; take for example Kenya. The application specifies a counterpart recruitment agency in Kenya.

If approved, the embassy sends the information to the recruitment agency in Kenya via the Musaned system. Once the Kenyan-based agency receives an application, it begins the training process for the domestic worker, prepares her paperwork, and facilitates his/her travel to Saudi Arabia.

The name of the applicant is then put in Musaned, containing the name of the worker and all her contracts including the particulars of her employer.

The portal also contains the map or direction to her employer so that if the Kenyan embassy wants to trace the domestic worker, they will only be required to use Google maps.

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