In the midst of any shock such as pandemic, epidemic or natural disasters, social protection play a vital role in minimizing the negative ripple effects. Universal social protection minimizes negative coping strategies that can deter growth and workers’ productivity in the long run. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the labour market, hence the need to explore how universal social protection system can be utilized in harness human capital, to help build back a productive workforce. The study sought to analyse how to harness human capital through universal social protection in Kenya. It adopted lifecycle approach, human capital theory and theory of change as the underpinning theories. The study adopted explanatory research design and interpretive research philosophy. Desk review of existing literature and secondary data was conducted. The study found that universal social protection programs should be categorized at national level gender responsive, inclusive and sustainable. A more appropriate lifecycle approach should be adopted as well. The study recommends adoption of a hybrid/integrated approaches to enhance universal social protection floors that work best during crisis and beyond. The approaches include: human-centered approach that involves extending social protection, protecting workers rights, promoting social dialogue and creating decent jobs with decent working conditions. The policy interventions should include: national social protection floors such as national fund; and country level enhanced and universal health care. Social insurance programs such as disability pension schemes, enhanced older persons cash transfers, as well as unemployment insurance schemes can be considered as temporary employee relief schemes. The economic relief measures may include: fiscal measures – tax relief and debt relief as well as social safety nets – cash transfer or payment in kind and increasing safety nets to make up for losses vertically and horizontally. While the labour market policies may include: wage subsidies, employee retention schemes and strategies, continuous capacity building, coaching, and mentoring to improve employability of the workers.
Citation: Emily Odhong (2021) Harnessing Human Capital through Universal Social Protection in Kenya, Global Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol.9, No.3, pp.37-57