May 10, 2012, 2:28 PM
A day's forum seeking to create more awareness on the need for more job opportunities for young people ended on Saturday September 4th at the Alliance Franco Gambienne courtesy of the Youth Employment Network (YEN) Gambia.
Participants at the forum discussed the need for more youths in the country to have access to decent job opportunities.
The theme for the forum was "Youth Employment A Challenge", and attracted government officials, youth leaders, young entrepreneurs and individual youths, among others.
The event was supported by one of the YEN partner institutions in The Gambia, that is, the Young Men Christian Association, YMCA, through its BLF project.
Speaking at the ceremony to welcome participants, the national coordinator of YEN Gambia, Abdou FB Boye, revealed that YEN Gambia is an associated member of YES International Network, established in 2002 purposely to advocate for more job opportunities and sustainable livelihoods for youths.
According to the YEN country team leader, the establishment of the network was based on the demographic realities of the country, its high rate of labour force and high unemployment rate among youths.
"The ultimate objective of this forum is to create a platform for youth organizations, young entrepreneurs, investors and even government to map out a way forward for youth employability by creating job opportunities and developing initiatives for youth employment", he said.
YEN Gambia, he said, is a national network of youth organizations advocating for the creation of more decent employment and sustainable livelihoods for the youth of this country.
He used the opportunity to speak on their relationship with YMCA, noting that since the later helped to revive YEN it failed to live up to expectations, despite promising YEN initial funding.
Deputising the Minister of Youth and Sports was Marchel Mendy, the executive secretary of National Youth Council (NYC), spoke at length on the importance of the forum.
"Of course, young people need employment, but we should also ask ourselves what are we doing as individuals, organizations or even civil societies in ensuring that young people of this country get gainful employment", he emphasized.
Mr. Mendy noted that it is the responsibility of any government to create avenues for youth employment, but it is the responsibility of the youths to make best use of the available opportunities.
According to him, the government has created avenues such as NYSS, NEDI and the President's Awards Scheme, among others, for young people of this country to acquire skills in order to be self-employed. But how ready are we to take up the challenge? he asked.
The NYC boss commended YEN Gambia members for their initiative, and urged them to continue the hard work.
YMCA's General Secretary and Director was represented at the forum by the BLF project coordinator Joseph Peacock.
He said youth employment is a great challenge for all be it the organizations, governments and the civil societies. He noted that the situation has reached critical proportions in developing countries, where 1.3 billion young people live without jobs, and the Gambia is not an exception.
"As youth employment grows only by 0.2% over the past decades, while the global youth population grows at the rate of 10.5%, the world is experiencing a great unemployment crisis and the challenges surrounding livelihoods have become increasingly complex," he added.
He noted that innovation and sustainable approaches are, therefore, necessary to ensure that young people are able to live healthy and productive lives that would enhance their contribution to the socio-economic development of their communities.
Youth unemployment is an issue of concern which needs a holistic approach to create solutions to ensure that young people get gainful employment to enhance their livelihood, he added.
Nfamara Jawneh the communications and advocacy officer of YEN chaired the opening ceremony, and stressed that it is very dangerous to ignore the problems associated with youth unemployment.
Jawneh maintained that when young people are having decent jobs, this would reduce the crime rate, idleness and dependency in the country.