How underemployment is affecting your career development

How underemployment is affecting your career development

By Joshua Nyawach

June 11th 2023

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Currently, underemployment is a problem facing the Kenyan economy from multiple fronts. The term underemployment can be described as a situation in which you are working, but not in a position that fully utilizes your skills, knowledge, or experience. In other words, you are "overqualified" for the position that you are currently holding. According to the report by the World Bank, underemployment is a significant facing Kenya, with an estimated 25% of the labor force currently underemployed. This is a significant percentage, and it highlights the bare fact that underemployment is a widespread issue that affects many people in Kenya. Whether it is due to a lack of job opportunities, a mismatch between an individual's skills and the demands of the job market, or other factors, the reality is that underemployment can have a major impact on your career development both short-term and long-term. There it is crucial to understand these impacts and plan against them

One of the most significant impacts of underemployment is on the individual’s income. Underemployment tends to come with lower wages hence directly affecting the individual’s financial ability. When you are underemployed, you may be working fewer hours, or you may be paid less than you are capable of earning in a position that fully utilizes your skills and experience. In the long run, it comes to be difficult to achieve end’s meet and personal life goals

In addition to the lower income that often comes with underemployment, there are also limited opportunities for financial advancement. When you are underemployed, you may not have the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities or to negotiate for a higher salary. This can make it difficult for you to advance in your career or to increase your income over time. In a country like Kenya, where the cost of living is relatively high, this can be a major challenge.

It is worth noting that the financial impact of underemployment is not limited to those who are underemployed. It can also have a ripple effect on the economy as a whole, as underemployment can lead to lower overall productivity and slow economic growth.

Besides the financial impact of underemployment, also other significant drawbacks can hold back your progress. One of these is the lack of access to professional development opportunities. When you are underemployed, you may not have the opportunity to attend things such as training programs, workshops, or other events that can help you learn new skills or advance your knowledge in your field. Such programs are very significant for career growth and without them, it makes it difficult for you to stay at pace with the current developments in the industry, and it can greatly limit your ability to grow your career.

Another problem that is common among the underemployed is the limited ability to gain valuable work experience. When you are underemployed, you may not have the opportunity to take on new projects, work with a diverse range of clients, or tackle complex problems. This can make it difficult for you to build a strong resume and gain the experience you need to move up in your career.

Finally, underemployment limits your opportunity to develop a strong professional network. When you are underemployed, you may not have the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of colleagues, clients, or industry professionals. This can make it difficult for you to build relationships and tap into the resources and support that can help your career advancement.

Generally, underemployment is a common and critical problem in Kenya and you should be actively seeking a solution to this problem so that you can advance in your career.

Related: The importance of continuous learning in career development

If you are experiencing the challenge of underemployment and seeking a way out, there are a few strategies to try out. One of the most effective is upskilling and continuing your education and making sure that your pace matches that of the modern job market. This can involve anything from taking short courses or workshops to earning a degree or other advanced qualification. Websites such as Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and Coursera provide accredited massive online courses that one can take to upgrade their skills. By acquiring new skills or deepening your knowledge in your field, you can make yourself more competitive and valuable in the job market and increase your opportunity for finding a position that fully utilizes your capabilities to the maximum.

The second strategy for overcoming underemployment is continuous networking and seeking out new job opportunities. This can involve joining professional organizations, attending industry events, or reaching out to contacts in your field. By building relationships and expanding your network base, you can learn about new job openings that may not be advertised elsewhere which perfectly fit your role.

Lastly, if you are unable to find a new job, it is advisable to negotiate for a higher salary and more responsibility in your current role. This may involve talking to your seniors or HR representative about your career goals and the value that you add to the company. By demonstrating that you are willing to take on additional responsibilities and contribute to the success of the organization, you may be able to increase your income and advance your career even within your current position.

To conclude, there are limitless strategies you can employ to overcome underemployment and move forward in your career. By being proactive and continuously seeking out opportunities to upskill, network, and negotiate for better terms, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your career goals.

If you want to succeed in your career, it is critical to address underemployment. As we have seen, underemployment can have a diverse financial impact, as well as career development impacts that can hold you back for a long time. By taking rapid action to overcome underemployment, you can increase your chances of finding a position that fully utilizes your skills, knowledge, and experience, and you can set yourself up for success in the long run.

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