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Young people dialogue with policy makers

Sep 30, 2011, 2:17 PM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

Over 75 young people from across the country recently participated in a discussion with policy makers on cross-cutting issues affecting youths. The dialogue formed part of thematic areas of the just-concluded Gambia YMCA national youth employment summit held at Paradise Suites Hotel.

Speaking at the dialogue forum, Ebrima Sanneh who stepped in for the Minister of Justice, raised relevant employment issues relating to the Labour Act of 2007.

He further told the gathering that the employment Act is also is very clear on prohibition of employing an under-aged person, but such a person can engage in vocational training.

“Issues we came across with young people with regards to employment include the fact that they do not know about contract agreements,” said Sanneh.

According to him, the Act requires the employers to come up with contracts including salaries, annual leave, among others. He further revealed that there is a significant difference between terms of contract and conditions of contract.

Sanneh told the youths that breach of contract is a serious matter.  “You can sue when there is breach of contract to the Industrial Tribunal,” he announced.

He also made mention of wrongful breach of contract, as well as substantial breach of contract, noting that the wrongful breach of contract attracts a higher sum than the other.

Sanneh advised youths to make use of the Act to know their rights.

Ousainou Sarr, from the President’s International Award Scheme, representing the Minister of Youth and Sports, stated that out of 1.6 million Gambians  63.1 percent are youths, adding that if there is serious unemployment at this level, it will become a threat to the society.

He talked about employment opportunities from the global perspective, and the 1997 constitution as well as the international conventions to which The Gambia is a signatory, and urged that youth employment issues be part of a comprehensive youth policy.

Sarr reminded the gathering of the sectors of tourism, agriculture and education with their master plans, among others, which he said are relevant to youth employment.

He further recommended the creation of an agency or directorate that will deal direct with employment issues in The Gambia.

Mr Sarr also recommended research to show the links between those employed and unemployed, which he said is very crucial.

“This will inform the government about the percentage of youths ready to enter into the labour market.” 

He concluded by calling on government to look into encouraging public-private sector partnerships, that can create employment through subsidies, as well as the creation of an inter-ministerial youth coordinating committee.

Speaking earlier, Seedy Njie, the National Assembly member, challenged the youths to network. He also recommended that institutions such as the Labour Department, Ombudsman as well as the Industrial Tribunal, work to ensure that justice is done.

However, Hon. Njie informed the youths that they can seek redress at the National Assembly if there problems are not sorted out, noting that “it is the last rest tort that the members of the public can seek redress from.”

Momodou Ceesay, deputy permanent secretary Ministry of Trade, said unemployment is a serious economic phenomenon, adding that youth unemployment is chronic.

He also made mention of opportunities in agriculture, tourism, small and big enterprises of the Gambian economy, among others.

According him, there are seven goals including employment that are enshrined in the national strategic plan. He also called for creation of satellite institutions like NEDI.

At the end of the session, young people also raised concern about statistics showing the national employment and unemployment rates; and, their share in the national budget, among others, as well as the level of youth engagement in the formulation of the PRSP.