Youth and unemployment

first_imgAs the world celebrated International Youth Day on August 12, the accolades and proverbial clichés attesting to the power, energy and dynamism of youths have been articulated by all and sundry. However, the grim reality facing the majority of the world’s youths is that there are not enough avenues available for them to manifest the potential of the accolades being ascribed to them.In Guyana, the Caribbean and around the world, millions of youths are stagnated and their future prospects of being visionary leaders and positive contributors to the world economy are crippled simply because there are not enough jobs to satiate the demand for employment, particularly youth employment.According to the World Economic Forum in a 2016 report, “73.3 million of the 200 million globally unemployed are young people (aged between 15 and 24). In two-thirds of European economies, youth unemployment remains above 20 per cent, and more than one in three unemployed young people have been looking for work for more than a year. Work, if it comes, is often below their expectations for a quality job. The Middle East and North Africa have had rates of youth unemployment close to 30 per cent for decades, and these remain the only regions where things have continued to worsen over recent years.”The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in 2015 reported that Guyana’s youth unemployment rate is among the highest in the Caribbean at a staggering 40 per cent. The report also stated that youth unemployment in the Caribbean is at a very high 25 per cent. Apart from being unemployed, most of the young people who do have work are still living in poverty. This is especially true in developing economies. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that, “together, the unemployed and the working poor account for two-fifths of the global youth labour force. One in three – an estimated 169 million young workers – live on less than [US] $2 per day. If you move to $4 a day, the figure becomes 286 million.”Scholars have argued that this leads to underemployment where the youths, faced with no other alternative, work in lower-skilled environments and will do it for less money for the rest of their lives. The ILO and other international bodies are aware of the militating problem of youth employment and have outlined the need for action to be taken in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations.In Guyana however, there seems to be no coherent plan to address the staggering 40 per cent of youths that we have unemployed, in addition to those who are working but are underemployed. Our Government is clearly embracing the outdated neo-liberalist construct – which is responsible to the devastating economic recession of 2008 – and believes that capitalism, the Private Sector should be the drivers of economic growth and jobs. This was exemplified in the speech of President David Granger when he said the populace should not look to Government for job creation but rather the Private Sector. Even though he posthumously articulated in favour of providing jobs for youths, the damage was already done. His prior comments reflected clearly the position of his Administration with respect to youth employment, that is, assigning priority to policies for job creation was not their concern.However, economists are of the view that providing jobs in the quantity and quality that we need will require action from governments. According to the World Economic Forum, “we recommend that Government policies support employment and lift aggregate demand, including public employment programmes, wage and training subsidies, sectoral programmes, counter-cyclical fiscal policies and youth entrepreneurship interventions.”What our Government needs to do is partner with international organisations such as the development banks to implement targeted polices that would make a difference in the labour force equation. Instead of wasting tax payers monies on projects that will see very little return on investment, such as the half billion that was spent on the Durban Park Stadium, when we already have the Providence Stadium, the Government should invest in doing a feasibility study and consequent impact plan on the jobs that will be needed in the near future.This way the University of Guyana will know what areas to target and plan its curriculums to suit.In the United States, the Obama Administration realised, through studies, that in the near future much of the level entry and semi-skilled jobs will be replaced by robots. Consequently, they are pushing for all their children to learn coding in their schools so that they can be the future programmers; in so doing guaranteeing jobs for their youths.last_img read more