The otherside of the Coin
There are 200million people in Africa between 15 and 24 years of age. This represents about 20% of the population.
According to the Population Research Bureau, Africa has the fastest growing and most youthful population in the world. Over 40 percent of its population is under 15. Africa’s high fertility rate is responsible for this.
This demographic finding portends challenges and opportunities. The challenges are economic and social; both are highly connected. As the population expands, jobs must be created. If these jobs are not enough, there will be many young people who are unemployed.
According to the International Labor Organization, 3 out of 5 unemployed people in Africa are young people.
Uganda is on the same page with countries that have the youngest population in the world. It’s true this may be a blessing but don’t pop champagne because this gigantic percentage of the youth is unemployed.
The economic and social effects of youth unemployment should be carefully considered to understand the gravity of the issue.
Early unemployment has a negative effect not only on the future employability of young people but also on their self-esteem, their role in the society and can represent a serious economic burden on state finances.
Having many young people unemployed is likely to reduce the level of happiness and mental health problems. When the youth are employed they feel accepted in the society, thus not having a job can cause economic, cultural and social isolation.
Social exclusion, stress and employment worries can cause mental health problems, such as depression. According to research studies youth unemployment is associated with increase in drug and alcohol use as well as higher levels of crime among young people.
Such unemployed youths are readily available for anti-social criminal activities that undermine the stability of society and scares away investors.
Youth unemployment is blighting a whole generation of youngsters. According to the International Labour Organization estimates there are 75million 15-to-24-year-olds looking for work across the globe.
But lack of qualifications happens to be one of the reasons behind youth unemployment. . Young people without any skills are much more likely to be unemployed and this is called structural unemployment.
There is a correlation between youth unemployment and poor results in Maths and English. To some extent the service sector has offered more unskilled jobs such as bar work, supermarket checkout and waiters.
However, the nature of the labour market is that many young people lack the necessary skills and training to impress employers.
Universities and schools also play a role in keeping the youth unemployed. There are so many people with advanced degrees that are still unemployed. Acquiring more and more academic documents may not be a solution to this paradox of unemployment.
When schools demand that one needs certificates, or a PhD, or some other “credential” that universities or other schools can give them, this may only be misleading. The truth is that employers want experience.
By getting more and more advanced degrees, without starting at the bottom and getting experience, one is just pricing oneself further out of the market. It is important to have a few years of work before going on for more degrees or certifications unless such are required for your field.
The aim of every government should be to create enabling environment to promote investments hence jobs. This includes provision of power, maintaining law and order, and adequate security.
The justice system must also be strong to facilitate strong contracts and protect mutual trust. Regional organizations must ensure that policy for economic integration is not just on paper but clearly implemented in real terms, across the borders.
There should be a swift transition from subsistence to commercialized farming. The education curriculum must be immediately revised to incorporate skills and enterprise development.
A special program should be designed for low-skilled youth in vocational centres. Incentives should be provided to small and medium enterprises that promote student internships.