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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Addressing youth unemployment

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Remarkably, there is no doubt that The Gambia shares the concern expressed by the international community about the seriousness of problems and threats posed by growing youth unemployment to the stability and security of societies. In fact, it is aware that the phenomenon undermines institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardising sustainable development and the rule of law.

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Although the growth prospects of most countries in Africa are good, from an estimated 4.8 percent in 2013 to 5.3 percent in 2014, millions of young people in Africa are estimated to be out of work and many more are in poor employment. This statistics is quite compelling and is expected to enter into a dramatic trend.


While there is hope of greater economic growth, our young people need growth that will translate into more and better jobs. They need job growth to happen fast given that within the next decade more young people will be leaving the education system and will be looking for jobs. But at current rates, it is clear that not enough jobs are being created.


Whereas self-employment may not be bad per se, in the overwhelming majority of cases it reflects the lack of alternatives, and implies precarious living conditions and working poverty. This continues to cast a crude light on the growth performance of most African countries. Their capacity to offer economic and social opportunities to their young generation has been falling short of their demographic dynamism.


Clearly, this is a tough time to be young in Africa. The fight against youth unemployment is said to need a more holistic and deeply thought-out strategic approach than is the case presently. It cannot be denied, however, that The Gambia’s perception to curb unemployment is strong in sentiment and emotion. But as long as we, at all levels of society, pay lip-service to it, it will take longer to rout it in our nation.


It should however be stated that the government cannot provide all the jobs that young people are expecting. But it can help the private sector create more jobs. The reality of our time has made it mandatory for the government to encourage and support the private sector in this direction. There is also need for stronger collaboration and synergy amongst the various stakeholders. We must also embrace entrepreneurship, take risks and be independent-minded. It can be an effective tool to stem growing youth unemployment.


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