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Youth Employment: Key to economic growth

Feb 24, 2011, 10:55 AM

Employment creation must be a priority for the government in addressing youth unemployment. But in dealing with the issue of youth unemployment, the two key factors that pose significant limitations on the ability of the economy to create jobs: labour market institutions and inadequate infrastructure, must be first tackled.

Youth employment is to ensure that our talented youths acquire gainful employment. Our labour market must provide employment opportunities for young people to realise their full potential, and also contribute to economic growth.

The issue of employability is not only about earning a living, but is fundamentally linked to the aspirations of young people, which is in turn linked to social status.

It is an indisputable fact that there are a good number of training institutions in the country built by the government and private institutions to provide skills training for youth.

However, still we could not meet the much-needed well trained labour force that the country needs.

As a result, we continue to rely on foreigners’ skills unnecessarily. Consequently, we need to decentralize the programmes of the country’s major training facilities.

Entrepreneurship training is increasingly seen as an important need, and we do recommend that it is offered in our high schools and university as well.

All young people need to be exposed to basic values of entrepreneurship in our school curriculum and training programmes. To ensure sustainability of start-up businesses of youths, credit schemes as part of capacity building programmes should be considered.

We firmly acknowledge that youth employment is a global challenge, and thus requires concerted efforts.

Unemployment, therefore, carries personal, social and economic consequences. It can lead to alienation, poverty and depression among all ages, but the situation is especially severe within vulnerable groups, such as youth.

It is a fact in The Gambia, as in many other developing countries, that many young people are underemployed, and even those who are engaged in something show low productivity and have a low income.

We recommend that the Gamjob projects, YMCA and many other initiatives trying to increase youth employment be well supported.

Most Gambian youths are active, strong and determined, the only thing they need to succeed in life is not promises, but projects and programmes that can make them excel in life.

“Unemployment diminishes people.  Leisure enlarges them.”

Mason Cooley