Africa in particular faces demographic challenges as its population of young people ages 18 to 34 increases and access to secure jobs continues to be problematic.
Beyond economic costs, high rates of youth unemployment and underemployment have social ramifications. As we all are very much aware, the global financial crisis threatens to further strain labor markets and exacerbate a tenuous situation for Africa’s youth.
Some youth with few job prospects and little hope of future advancement may see little alternative to criminal activities or joining armed conflicts. “Unemployed and underemployed [youth] are more exposed to conflicts and illegal activities—many of them fall prey to armed and rebel groups,” says Jorge Saba Arbache - Chief Economist, World Bank. In addition he says, “Youth unemployed and underemployed are more exposed to economic cycles,” making them vulnerable to job instability.
We’re all rightly fixated on the politics of what is going on in most countries in Africa especially Egypt, Tunisia and Nigeria at the moment. But it is worth sparing a thought for the economics, too. If Ukrainians in 1917 wanted “peace, bread and land” and ended up with absolutism and collective farms; young Africans, especially those from the Sub-Saharan African region just want jobs and source of income.
The unemployment rate in South Africa is one of the highest in the world, 36% to 42% since the year 2000 using the broad definition whiles Egypt’s youth-unemployment rate is currently about 25%. That is clearly a depressing number, but even more depressing is that it is not out of line with rates across the region, and beyond. Moreover, the unemployment rates for different groups reveal great disparity in the incidence of unemployment.
Things are looking bad with regards to employment in most countries now. If students and youth become truly desperate they will realize that things are just going to work out for them, but that they have to take some initiative and seek out opportunities. If they continue being unemployed they will never become independent.
In a latest collaborated post by Arrianna Marie-Coleman and Carlin Carr on the topic; Work in the Developing World; I couldn’t disagree any further various with the various points made by the writers. “While many developing nations have enjoyed economic growth, the benefits of that growth have not been distributed evenly and the high proportion of unemployed young people undermines further economic growth.”
I believe policy-makers needs to put in a lot of effort and work when it comes to youth and unemployment issues, because Youth employment is a part of the growth strategy of every African country. Employment policies need to favor investment in education and training.
Are there no easy solutions to the problem of youth unemployment in Africa? What kind of youth unemployment policies are working in your location that can be adopted and re-branded for the African countries?