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Youth and unemployment

May 10, 2010, 12:33 PM

The issue of unemployment, especially among young people, is a very critical problem that calls for greater commitment.

The move by the Youth Employment Network YEN-Gambia Chapter to play a lead role in advocating for youth employment is, indeed, commendable and a step in the right direction.

We must commend YEN and all other organisations that champion the cause of youths, especially with regards to employment.

It is an indisputable fact that when young people are not employed they can resort to anything to eke out a living.

Problems associated with unemployment are many, including an increase in the crime rate, smoking especially of cannabis, hard drug abuse, frustration, dependency, migration, just to name a few.

Certainly, the above mentioned problems would be a thing of the past when the young members of the population are provided with gainful employment.

If people are provided with jobs, this can make them live a decent and productive life. Thus, there is a need to intensify efforts in creating employment avenues for the youths.

We acknowledge the numerous efforts being undertaken by the government in addressing unemployment and related problems. Such initiatives include the creation of the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS), President’s International Awards Scheme, GAMJOBS and National Enterprise Development Initiative in creating employment opportunities for youths, and also making them more employable.

Nonetheless, more needs to be done to address all the social ills associated with lack of employment. It might sound difficult, but creating more industries will also boost employment prospects in the country.

The need to further strengthen the NYSS and other existing initiatives is fundamental.

Agriculture is another sector that can help the country address its employment challenges. To this end, the Ministry of Agriculture should work with the Youth and Sports Ministry, to create youth farms across the country. The two ministries could manage these farms, and pay the participating youths from the produce of the farms.

It is now increasingly clear that not everyone can have a so-called white-collar job. Therefore, initiatives such as youth farms can greatly help in reducing the unemployment burden.

The private sector should also help create more employment opportunities for young people in the country.

The need to conduct research in order to have up to date data on employment will be very useful, which YEN is also looking forward to engaging in.

The issue of participation in the forthcoming Youth Employment Summit (YES) in Sweden later this month is also vital, as there are so many opportunities in attending the forum, which The Gambia cannot afford to miss.

We, therefore, call on the government, private sector, UN System and other donors to support the country's participation.

While every country needs to understand the dangers associated with ignoring the global youth unemployment phenomenon, countries must recognise the wealth of human potential available if young people are given the opportunity to be productive.