Mr. Basiru Secka of the Employment Directorate at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE), has acknowledged the crucial importance of the interventions of key institutions such as the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) Gambia Chapter, Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC), and Empretec Gambia, in mitigating youth unemployment by providing entrepreneurship training to youth, women and the vulnerable.
The Employment Ministry official, speaking during the recent stakeholder engagement with Youth Parliament on ‘Migration and its impacts in the Gambia’, also explained that the problems of unemployment had been a cross-cutting issue, and are great concerns that need concerted efforts to be addressed.
According to him, interventions of the aforesaid entities have created a great pool of youth enterprises across the country and consequently, there is an urgent need to link these entrepreneurs to the market to enable their growth and development. Secka said the government believes that entrepreneurship is among the most sustainable means of creating employment and employability, which addresses youth unemployment and should be made the engine of growth in the private sector.
The interventions of the government on key youth empowerment and development initiatives usher youth in employment self-employment and employability, he said, citing the Empretec program at GIEPA which has trained over 4000 entrepreneurs and offered business development services across the country.
Secka lamented that the impact of youth unemployment on the economic development of the Gambia is numerous and could lead to issues like irregular migration, brain drain, rural-urban migration or vice versa, high rates of crime, and rampant poverty in the country. He referred to the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) 2018 survey indicating the Gambia has a population of 2.3 million, of which 59.6 percent are youth, whilst the national unemployment rate is 41.5 percent.
“Youth unemployment rate is 35.2 percent; youth that is ‘Not in Employment, Education, and Training [NEET] is 56.8 percent. There is 54 percent of youth residing in the urban area that is NEET and 45.9 percent are in the rural areas,” Secka stated. He stressed, that despite the current conditions of the Covid pandemic, the Gambia government is working tirelessly to make sure that the active labor force is absorbed in the labor market; that policies and programs are being developed and implemented by the government to address employment issues.
Key among such policies and programs, as Secka enumerated, included the 2007 Labour Act, 2010 to 2014 Employment Policy and Action Plan, the 1963 and 1991 Injury Compensation Bill; the Factory’s Act are being reviewed, and the 2015 to 2017 Decent Work Country Programme had been updated to 2018 to 2021, formalization of the MSMEs, to ensure decent employment and conducive working environment for all.
Secka concluded by reassuring the youth parliamentarians of the Ministry’s full support in the implementation of their advocacy activities.