Federation, an affiliate of ChildFund The Gambia, on Tuesday commenced a 2-day
stakeholder engagement on youth employment.
The forum was to create space for youth and other stakeholders such as government authorities, private sector, parents, and community leaders to engage one another on how to effectively increase youth employment.
Speaking at the opening ceremony at the Regional Education Directorate in Brikama, Fabakary Fadera of Saamasang Federation said the Community Reflection Survey conducted in 2015 by the federation in Kombo Central District revealed low level of employment among youth.
“Unemployment came out as a very distinct issue,” he said. “The issue of unemployment is a national issue and what makes it more important is that youth contribute a high percentage of our population; it is therefore important to find solutions to the unemployment problem.”
Mr Fadera said the high rate of unemployment among youth is due to inadequate livelihood skills, school dropout, low job opportunities and inadequate start-up capital for youth with vocational skills, among others.
In view of this, Saamasang Federation designed a project to increase youth employment opportunities in Kombo Central District.
As part of the project and with the support of partners like ChildFund, the federation has embarked on a number of interventions to address the problem of unemployment in the district.
Such interventions include livelihood skills training where selected youth were trained on skills such as catering, sewing, hairdressing, plumbing, shoe making, food processing and preservation among others.
It also includes a programme which targets both in and out of school youth to set up social and financial enterprises.
The federation also supports youth through their community associations in setting up youth and children structures which has proven to be very effective in preparing children and youth for their own development.
Mamud Keita, on behalf of the governor of West Coast Region, said youth are the cream of the nation and as such they have a very important role to play in the development of the country.
He said there is a need to find ways and means to engage youth in meaningful socio economic activities that will ensure their contribution to national development.
“This cannot be achieved when youth are not given job opportunities to work and earn a decent living and thus contribute to national development,” Mr Keita said.
Ousainou Sarr, technical specialist youth, ChildFund The Gambia, said there is a need to initiate and create opportunities where youth are able to utilise their capabilities to discover their hidden talents and apply them.
“We need to be able to collectively put our resources, knowledge and skills and create an environment where this knowledge and skills will be a swimming pool that every youth can swim and enjoy the beauty of the swimming pool,” he said.
Lamin Darboe, executive director of National Youth Council, said when people are empowered, they do not only take decisions but they take decisions and willingness to face and take responsibility of the consequences of the decisions they make.
The NYC executive director said decent jobs must be created for the youth, jobs that are not hazardous to their lives and livelihood, jobs that are able to cater and provide for young people to meet their fundamental basic needs.
“We can address the issue of [youth] migration if we are able to create decent jobs for young people,” he said.