In Africa, the problem of youth unemployment is more complex than in some other parts of the world. Young people make up more than 50 per cent of the population of most member states of the EAC. These young people are a potential resource for growth and social development if gainfully and productively engaged. But they could also be a source of devastating social tension and conflict if not.
In many countries, the degree to which youth can contribute to the possibilities of their countries in particular and the continent in general is constrained by circumscribed life chances, with the lack of job opportunities being one of the major circumstances. The countless number of young people loitering around and peopling the streets of major African cities bears ample witness to the limited job opportunities that the youth of the continent have.
It is still critical for African countries to come up with specific plans that target young people. Most employment policies fail to take into account the particular needs of young people. There is a realization in many countries that youth, both male and female, are at a disadvantage on the job market. Even if they have had some schooling, many lack skills and job experience. Those who want to set up their own businesses lack capital. In many companies, last-in, first-out hiring policies mean that young people are the first to lose their jobs when a company is in distress.
Data on unemployment in general in Africa are lacking. The ILO's Key Indicators of the Labor Market 2001 - 2002 has data for only about 10 countries; and even then, not the most recent data. But one really does not need to have data to recognize that youth employment is and should be a priority in Africa. On 16.04.2003 ILO released the labor force survey, with new unemployment baseline indicators, which highlighted the gradual increase in unemployment in Tanzania. The survey was accompanied by an increase of the number of under-employed persons over the past ten years. Despite encouraging positive economic growth over the past few years, the underlying economic reforms have failed to reduce unemployment in the country. Instead, unemployment rate has increased in both rural and urban areas, with the latter five times as high (compared to rural), doubling the number of unemployed persons ten years ago to about 1 million. Youth unemployment rates are approximately twice as high as adult unemployment rates.
Youth Unemployment: Causes and Effects
A number of possibilities to explain patterns of high and persistent unemployment amongst the young are:
· Less knowledge on self employment, entrepreneurship, job creation and self independence.
· Poor education system. Our system slightly prepares youth to face real life; we miss things like career guidance, WTS Programs, motivational talks, and other counseling and guidance programs
· The size of the youth cohort - the higher the number of young people, the more jobs that will be required to accommodate them.
· Lack of skills- It is as well argued that in this new technological age the young do not possess the skills that firms need. There is less demand than in the past for unskilled jobs, particularly because of new technology, and this substantially affects the young.
· Hard working conditions; mistreatment and value for money issue but also laziness
· Globalization speed threat to employers; this discourages employing unskilled young people/fresh from school
· Slow-growing economies are unable to generate enough job opportunities to absorb the large number of young people qualifying from institutions of learning every year
· Lack of volunteerism spirit but also lack of support after graduating
· Daring fear and hence long time unemployment
Effects of unemployment increase
· Unemployment threatens peace and security
· Unemployed youth are much more likely to engage in risky behavior which could increase their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
· Jobless youth are often marginalized and excluded from the larger society. The social exclusion can lead to alienation from society and democratic political processes, and subscription to radical and even terrorist ideologies. One very visible consequence of youth unemployment in Africa is the rising rate of crime.
· Unemployment has social as well as economic consequences for young people. Unemployed young people are forced to find alternatives to generate income, including activities in the survival-type informal sector and, in extreme cases, criminal activity.
· Urban youth unemployment is further exacerbated by rural-urban migration. Rural migrants believe that more jobs and social opportunities are available in urban areas, but once in the cities they find themselves without a job and with limited social networks.
· The longer unemployment spell, the more difficult it is for that person to find work because of the loss of skills, morale, psychological damage etc. There are three major reasons why unemployment while young, especially for frequent or long periods, can be particularly harmful:
v Early unemployment in a person's career may permanently impair his or her future productive capacity.
v Barriers to employment can block young people in the passage from adolescence to adulthood, which involves setting up a household and forming a family.
v There is some connection between youth joblessness and serious social problems such as drug abuse, petty crime and single parent families.
· High levels of youth unemployment may, at an aggregate level, lead to alienation from society and from democratic political processes, which may give rise to social unrest. Unemployment makes people unhappy
What should be done?
The Vision of the Ministry of labor, youth development and sports is to have industrial harmony, health and safe working environment; effective social welfare conditions for the people; enabling environment for human labor deployment and; to have well brought up and responsible youth in society.
The mission of the Ministry is to promote labour standards, employment, social welfare and youth development as well as sports development.
The functions of the ministry are;
· Coordinate Labor Policy, National Employment Policy, Trade Unions, Human Resources Development Programmes, International Labor Organizations, Co-ordination and Facilitation of Informal Sector, Youth Development, Employment and Youth Self-reliance Projects, Vocational Training Youth Organizations, Social Welfare Policy, Probation and Repatriation of Destitute, Policy on Games and Sports Development and its implementation.
· Development of Human Resources under this Ministry.
· Extra ministerial Departments, Parastatal Organizations and Projects under this Ministry.
· Ensure development of all sports at national and international levels.
Very comforting, but poorly achieved! But we can still advice the following.
“Reducing the world’s rate of youth unemployment by half could add $2,200 bn – $3,500 bn to the global economy”, estimates the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Improve Education and training
It is clear that to rise out of poverty, the people of our continent need jobs and education. Not just any job, but one that provides a decent wage and employment conditions.
To increase the employability of the 1 million young school-leavers entering the job market annually without appropriate skills, the Egyptian government in 1991 began to provide technical and vocational training to secondary school students. Over a three-year period, students spend two days a week at school and four days a week in training in a business. More than 1,600 companies are involved in the programme, which has so far reached more than 15,000 students. Graduates often find immediate employment or set up their own small enterprises.
Another focus of action has been on spreading entrepreneurship skills beyond the schools. A number of countries have introduced entrepreneurship training programmes, including Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Policymakers believe that the promotion of small-business enterprises and the informal sector offer quick solutions to joblessness.
In Nigeria, which has more than 10 million small-business owners, the government supports new entrepreneurs through a network of about 20 industrial development centers that train youth, help them turn their ideas into feasible business ventures and supply them with credit.
For successful poverty reduction we must have to be in the driver’s seat, because we are the ones who know best where the shoe pinches. We should craft their own poverty-reduction strategies based on national realities.
Initiating Innovative programs
The urgency and seriousness of the problem of youth unemployment in Tanzania should convince all of us to draw number of innovative programs for young people.
Setting legal protection for youth
Our Govt can make it a regulation for every company or organization to hire a certain amount of employees whether fresh graduates or not into their organizations or companies for this will help in giving a certain amount of youths the opportunity to grow in the market and gain more experience.
Even though, we have said a lot on government accountability regarding this matter, but we still have the increased unemployment rate. The Government knows what to do but to them its “kelele za chura….” Today the Govt is facing by a lot of challenges hence it’s unrealistic to wait for the Govt to bring us changes. Changes should begin from us. We can shape our own destiny. We can propose ideas to solve the problem which can be applicable from the government to an individual level.
Youth must stop, reflect, theorize, re-plan and then act in accordance with better future. A youth must at individual level improve personal skills like being self esteemed, independent, decisive, critical, thinking positive, determinant, dynamic, hard working, creative, networking with different exposures, increasing knowledge beyond classroom knowledge, learning persuading skills, seeking technological knowledge, improving altenative communication ways, be open, responsible, ethical, patriot and prove your ability to master environment surrounding you.
This paper has briefly discussed the problem of youth unemployment in Tanzania. The discussion has not been exhaustive. Summing up I recommend the need for data on youth unemployment in Tanzania. The lack of data - reliable, consistent, and timely – is a hindrance to informed decision-making in our country. The lack of data is therefore an important area for discussion for evidence-based policy-making on youth unemployment. We need to improve the overall data collection capabilities.