Youth unemployment a time bomb – IOE

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Eveline de Klerk

Walvis Bay-Africa, despite experiencing economic growth rates second only to Asia, does not absorb youth in such economic growth, leading to high youth unemployment that is a ticking time bomb for the continent. This is according to Frederick Muia, the senior advisor for Africa at the International Organisation of Employers (IOE).

Muia was one of the speakers who addressed employer organisation representatives from Eastern, Central and Southern Africa attending a two-day conference that ended last Wednesday at Walvis Bay.

Speaking at the conference themed “Training for development and job creation especially for the youth”, Muia said job creation for the youth is a major challenge not only in Africa but also globally, and can have disastrous consequences in the long run.

He said all countries are faced with the problem of absorbing millions of young people so that they become decent and productive citizens.

“Millions of young people who leave training institutions, schools and universities are the ones we are referring to that need to be accommodated into mainstream job activities.

The global youth unemployment rate is three times the adult unemployment rate and this should be a warning sign for all of us. However, we in the IOE have taken initiatives to support our members in addressing this problem,” said Muia.

He said that IOE, after the global economic and financial crisis, set up the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) which is a business driven alliance with the overarching goal of encouraging and linking business initiatives on skills and employment for youth through apprenticeships.

“I am pleased that employers from this sub-region have embraced GAN with national chapters launched, or waiting to be launched, by employers in Malawi, Tanzania and Namibia,” he said.

Another initiative of IOE on behalf of employers in Africa is the Jobs for Africa Foundation, which came about as a result of a number of meetings on how Africa can sustain economic growth and at the same time accelerate the pace of job creation in order to absorb the youth.

Muia said this initiative seeks to create a conducive environment for enterprise creation and development, while it seeks to advocate for stable macro-economic conditions that facilitate access to finance that guarantees fair competition.

“We seek to promote political stability and economic predictability in our countries and collaborate with governments to develop infrastructure such as roads, rail, water and sanitation, airports, seaports, ICT. More importantly we call on governments to reduce red tape and bureaucratic procedures that inhibit enterprise creation and development,” added Muia.

Speaking at the same conference, Hopolang Phororo, the director of the ILO Country Office for Zimbabwe and Namibia, said the sustainable development goals (SDGs) realize the importance of addressing the challenge of youth employment in terms of promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

“Increasing job opportunities will require creativity, technological innovation, sustained economic growth and high levels of productivity and the SDGs being aspirational goals that aim at achieving this end by 2030 mean that much is expected from relevant stakeholders, if these goals will be realized,” she said.

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