Apr 16, 2009, 6:31 AM
Some seventy young Gambians were certified Friday after completing an eight-month training of the pilot phase of the GAMJOBS funded project on ICT and mobile phone repairing, at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
The training programme, carried out in partnership with Unique Solutions, rlg Communications in Ghana, the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the National Youth Council and the UNDP, was aimed at equipping unemployed Gambian youths with specialised employment skills in mobile phone repairs and entrepreneurship.
Speaking on the occasion, Sheriff Gomez, Minister of Youths and Sport, said he was delighted that his ministry is part of the initiative.
“It shows that the Gambia government is not only committed to youth empowerment but also encourages private-public partnership,” Hon. Gomez said, adding: “My ministry is committed to youth empowerment and therefore encourages anything related to youth empowerment.”
He commended GAMJOBS for establishing partnership with Unique Solutions and encouraged both institutions to progressively maintain the partnership.
Minister Gomez also congratulated the graduands for the achievement. “It is important you count yourselves lucky and create benchmarks,” he advised. “The success of this pilot project counts on your success and failure.”
He also commended all partners for supporting Unique Solutions.
GAMJOBS national coordinator Salimatou Touray, who read a statement on behalf of UNDP Representative to the country, said: “There is an increasing consensus at local, regional and international level that youth unemployment has become increasing concern for the global community.”
Statistics show that there are more than one billion people between the ages of 15-24, that 85% of them live in developing countries, many of whom have made transition from school to work.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 150 million people in the world today are unemployed, he said.
In the developing countries, increasing numbers of young people are working in the informal sector where they earn low wages.
Focusing on the Gambia unemployment, the ILO states that unemployment rate among the youths is placed at about 40% while 70% of women are engaged in low productivity rural business agriculture that provides about 86% of household income.
However, she stated that the UNDP, in collaboration with the Gambia government, the Kingdom of Spain and with technical support from the ILO, had been working with other partners to youth unemployment.
The training, she added, did not only provide skills for young people; it has also provided decent jobs for them in accordance with MDG1.
Since the inception of GAMJOBS, budgeting constraints have limited the activities of the project on trade and vocational training, she noted.
She as well recommended the need for government to design a good structure plan for the beneficiaries of GAMJOBS to create youth policies and access to micro credit.
“There is need to start thinking on how we can transform GAMJOBS into a permanent youth employment agency,” she said, while thanking the government for demonstrating commitment to the youths and addressing unemployment in The Gambia.
Speaking earlier, the CEO of Unique Solutions, Papa Yusupha Njie, revealed that they had sponsored the establishment of 10 kiosks across the country for the most deserving graduates to start their business.
He added that Africell has also pledged D150,000 to help setup more kiosks in major towns of the country and “will provide 10 direct employment opportunities for the graduates”.
According to Mr Njie, Trust Bank, from the initiation of the project, has been working together on a seed funding programme to provide the much needed capital for the graduates.
“It is our corporate social responsibility, to form a great part of our contribution to the national development process hoping that the project goes from strength to strength,” he said.
Other speakers on the occasion included Trade Minister Abdou Colley and rlg Communications CEO Roland Agambire.