Friday, March 19, 2010

Unemployment Source of Concern

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)-Unemployment in The Gambia is a source of concern for government, parents, school leavers and even non-school attendants.
The National Unemployment Plan has even called attention to the pressing issue of the high unemployment rates among the urban youth, aged 20-24 years.
According to findings, unemployment rates are generally higher among the more educated ones.
Using the latest population census figures, which is usually the benchmark reference for unemployment indication, the urban rate is 10 percent and the rural one stands at only 2 percent. Moreover, the urban youth unemployment rate is very high at 22 percent-- in rural areas youth unemployment is 3 percent.
However, research found that the highest unemployment is found among those with secondary education at 15 percent, while the lowest is found in those without any schooling with 4 percent.
Investigations show that among the few graduates who are lucky to be employed in the tourism, banking and finance services, insurance etc are employed because of either “who you know, not what you know, and scratch my back and I give you employment”.
Calculations in the Population Census 2003 show an unemployment rate of 9, 7, 6 and 1 percent respectively for those with pre-primary, primary, and post-secondary education and for others.
The PRSP does not give specific employment/unemployment figures, but emphasizes three important issues. These include the greater relative importance of unemployment as a priority in urban areas (according to people’s perceptions), the relatively high incidence of unemployment among graduates despite evidence of vacancies in the public sector, and the significance of urban youth unemployment.
The country study document on macro economic and labor market aspects, published jointly by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and International Poverty Centre in July 2008, said that the most acute employment problem in low income developing countries is seldom unemployment.
According to the report, underemployment, i.e., “part-time, seasonal and short-term employment and low average earnings due to poor productivity” is frequently of greater concern. It stated that The Gambia’s HIS survey examine underemployment through the lens of a number of working days per year.
According to the survey data, most categories of workers work around 200 days or more. In the case of Wage-Workers, most of them work year round or 313 days per year. Calculations from IHS 2003 database on the days of work per year (median) of employed workers, point out that employers as 200, unpaid family workers 200, apprentice 200 and other total workers 205 days.
These figures suggest that underemployment is not a particularly serious issue, at least not as serious as often assured. However, this indicator does not provide information about other dimensions of underemployment, for example information on the number of hours worked per week.
On unemployment, others attribute it either to have the opportunity to further their education at tertiary institutions. On the other hand, the tertiary institutions are very expensive, which lends few people the opportunity to attend.
Findings revealed that currently there are no tertiary institution apart from The Gambia College that is offering free education for the poor and needy students in the country that want to further their education.
It is evident however that one consequence of unemployment is the increase in crime rates. The high rate of crime happens in the urban areas as young people found in “ghettos” and “attaya vous” get involved in crimes. Another part on the crime rate can be in the tourism area where it is common that “bumsters” engage in hurdles with each other
The increase in crime rate and criminals, worries the Gambia government and President Jammeh, has denounced it in his new year to address the nation saying “In fostering peace and stability, in the Gambia, I would never compromise with criminals and detractors, whose main intention is to stall our progress as a country. “.
Recently, “there has been a sharp increase in heinous crimes including murder, rape, robberies and others perpetrated within our boarders” said Jammeh.
“We as a nation denounce violence in all forms. My government will always maintain zero tolerance for people bent on wreaking havoc, instability and violence, we will apply the laws of this land to the letter,’ he added.
Making a similar statement, for the application of the laws, Justice Moses Richards of the Appeal Criminal Court Division of the High Court, on 8 September 2009, while presiding over an attempted rape case brought against one Omar Ndure, also denounced violence in all forms. Justice Richards declared a rape and murder crusade until such a time that the menace is completely eradicated in society.
According to him, murder and rape had become rampant in society. As he put it, his court continues to receive cases of rape and murder almost on a daily basis and he declared that until such time that the menace is completely eradicated, if anybody is found guilty on the offences of murder and rape, he would waste no time in handing down the maximum sentence on the convict.
Speaking to our reporter in Brikma, Madam Fatou Sonko said that unemployment can cause crime in society adding “if one graduates and does not have any job to do, the person can easily engage in criminal activities”.
According to her, unemployment has become of great concern for parents noting that “we are tired sitting with our sons and daughters, looking eye to eye from morning to dust every day”.
She called on government to create more job opportunities noting that the country needs more investors to come and create employment for our young ones.
Madam Sonko also advised the young to engage in skill work to become self-employed.
The National Population Policy 2007, indicates that the current rapid population growth rate will translate into a high rate of labor force growth in the future and, consequently, increased demand for employment opportunities.
The Document spells out that the country is already facing the problem of having to provide for an increasing number of new entrants to the labor force.
Authentic reports shows that the rural-urban drift and international in-migration appear to have aggravated the unemployment problem in the urban areas. According to the Gambia Bureau of Statistics 1993 unemployment rates,, unemployment is high among the youth at the age 20-24 years, with 29.12 percent males and 26.93 percent females.
However, creating sustainable livelihoods for the youths and for their need to be involved in national development, is the way forward. Youths need support for them to make their own future, and some of the support or activities can be based on empowerment, entrepreneurship training, creating awareness seminars and outreach programmes.
It is to be noted that growth in the job market is not keeping pace with the high turn over of school leavers and, as a result, there is high unemployment among the youth. This provides clear evidence of the need to consider the population factor in economic development strategies.

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