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YEN mobilises youths, partners for greater employment opportunities

Mar 9, 2012, 2:46 PM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

The Youth Employment Network Gambia Chapter (YEN Gambia), with support from the Gambia YMCA, yesterday held a national youth employment forum at the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment in Banjul.

The forum was preceded by a procession from the Arch 22 in Banjul to the ministry, where lectures and speeches were delivered.

The walk in the streets of Banjul and the youth gathering at the ministry were aimed at sensitizing young people and partners on youth employment issues as well as to profile the network.

The event also brought together representatives of different member national youth originations, youth activists and students.

In his opening remarks on behalf of the Minster of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Mamadi Dampha, a senior human resource officer at the ministry, said the event marked a significant milestone in their efforts to foster positive partnership and boost employment-related initiatives.

The government has developed the PRSP II in a bid to address youth unemployment and poverty reduction.

Dampha said further that the recently launched Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) serves as testimony of government’s commitment to resolving employment and labour issues in the country.

He further revealed that the government aims to improve job opportunities through the creation of Gambia Priority Employment Programme, (GAMJOB) which aims at operationalizing the national employment policy and the national employment action plan in response to the increasing unemployment and poverty in The Gambia, among other initiatives, particularly among women and youths.

Mr Dampha challenged the YEN to keep up the momentum to ensure their goals are met as well to bring positive change in the society.

 Deputizing the Youth and Sports Minister Alieu K. Jammeh, deputy director of youth, Sutay Jawo, applauded the initiative describing it has timely.

“It is a fact that youth employment is nowadays a very big challenge not only at national level but also globally,” said Jawo.

He said the National Youth Policy of The Gambia focus and direction has realized that poverty is a major issue when it comes to youth.

He said the government is convinced that decents and durable jobs are the key to eradicating poverty.

Mr Jawo added that it was for this reasons the government aims to improve job opportunities in the country.

He highlighted some challenges such as lack of basic formal education, training in informal job market among youths, which his ministry tries to address through the programmes and initiatives.

Ms Salimata Touray, coordinator of GAMJOBS, described the walk for employment initiative as an innovative way to draw attention to employment and employment-related issues.

She commended YEN for the initiative and urged the network to keep up the momentum.

“Gamjobs was launched in 2007 and its key objective is to create employment, develop skills, create opportunities for wage and self-employment in the formal and informal economy among others,” she highlighted.

“For now, total number of employment opportunities created at Gamjobs is pegged at 3,200,” said the coordinator.

She noted that the number will swell once their ongoing training programs end.

She also highlighted the opportunities her office rendered while urging the youths to capitalize on the current environment, policies and initiatives designed for them by submitting viable proposals to the Gamjobs office for consideration.

Joseph Peacock, acting-director and general secretary of the Gambia YMCA, assured the youths of their readiness to continue supporting them.

“Over the years, youth entrepreneurship and economic justices have been our focus,” he said, adding that the Gambia YMCA as so far trained 1,617 young people in skills and entrepreneurship development.

However, he lamented some problems they encounter in repayment of loans giving out, while calling for attitudinal change among young people.

For his part, Abdul Boye, YEN national coordinator, told participants that the chapter was established in The Gambia in 2002, as a National Network of Youth Organizations advocating for youth employment and sustainable livelihoods for youth.

He highlighted some of the achievements registered by the associations, as well as their constraints.

He also called for more youth empowerment and employment opportunities.

Boye however appreciates the efforts of the government in trying to address youth unemployment in the country.

The forum ended with a question-and-answer session during which young people call for more employment opportunities in the country.

The ceremony was chaired by Mr Nfamara Jawneh, communications and advocacy officer of YEN, who stressed the need for the Government to do more in boosting youth employment.

 He challenged the youth to acquire the right skills for them to be employable.