By Mohamud Isse Yusuf
The world is facing a worsening youth employment crisis; young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.
Unemployment means a person is willing to work but is unable to find a qualified job. Our country is facing many problems but one of the serious problems is that of unemployment. Many college graduates, doctors, engineers, scientists are unemployed or underemployed. Due to unemployment, we are wasting our country’s human resource.
According to a UN report, the unemployment rate for youths in Somalia is one of the highest in the world at 67% among all 14 to 29-year-olds — 61% among men and 74% among women.
The Somalia Human Development Report 2012, issued by the UN Development Programme considers 82% of Somalis to be poor, with 73% living on less than $2 a day.
The report also said that 40% of youths are actively looking for work, while 21% are neither working nor in school with unemployment becoming among the biggest threats facing the Somali society.
Puntland, with a population of about 3 million of which 65% are nomadic, as indicated by Puntland Facts and Figures report published by the Ministry of Planning and Statistics. The youth experience unemployment in the same way as other parts of Somalia. It is estimated that 70% of Puntland’s total population is less than 30 years old.
Young men and women are Puntland’s greatest asset for present and the future, yet they also represent a group that is seriously vulnerable when it comes to unemployment. Youth unemployment is generally viewed as an important policy issue in many countries, regardless of their stage of development. A failure to successfully integrate youth into the labor market has broader consequences for Puntland at large.
In Puntland, the youth represent the smallest number of the working-age-population in any working place. The unemployment rate for those between the ages of 18 and 25 are routinely twice—or even three times higher—than those of the total working-age-population. In recent years, the youth unemployment rate in Puntland was alarmingly high. In addition to the high youth unemployment rate, the proportion of youth unemployment in total unemployment is high. Some of the youth go as far as to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe in search of better job opportunities.
The main causes behind the unemployment in Puntland can be summarized as follows:
Educational Expansion: in the last seven years, education in Puntland has increased rapidly and hence caused more skilled and professional people to enter into the labor market. Yesterday, the main criterion for job applications was a possession of a either secondary school diploma or college diploma. Today, it is normal to see many employers requiring a minimum of master degree.
Focus on White Color Jobs: Most of the youth in Puntland are not happy to do blue color jobs, like working in restaurants, hotels, small businesses, and other similar jobs. They want white color jobs where they can sit in offices and cruise with company cars (Layla-calaawi), and this is not feasible.
Rural-urban Migration: Large number of the youth migrates every day to cities in expectation of securing white color jobs, but their high hope does not materialize which in turn raises the youth unemployment rate.
Socio-economic Deficiencies: the macro and micro economy of Puntland is shrinking year after year with the worst year being 2012. The more the economy becomes weak the more the rate of unemployment also increases because the labor market is directly proportional with the economy.
Lack of transparent in Recruitment Procedures: The system of employment in Puntland, both in public and private sectors, is mostly based on nepotism and tribalism, and there is no fair system that provides for equal youth employment, opportunities.
Lack of International Investment: Due to the absence of a federal government and the prevalence of insecurity, many international investors are cautious in investing in some Somali regions.
Dependency on Foreign Products: Since our region is rich in livestock, farming, fishing and other natural resources, it is foolish for Puntland to rely on outside products instead of investing and utilizing our main resources—like natural resources, manpower and the creativity of our citizens. These will create more employment opportunities and enhance future development.
Lack of Good Governance: The region, like other regions in Somalia, is faced with prolonged turmoil, clan conflicts and lack of good governance which creates confusion, recurring conflicts and economic degradation with diminishing livelihood.
Some experts say that the only solution youth unemployment is for the Puntland government to create job opportunities rather than relying on private sectors to employ the region’s youth.
The quality of Puntland education should be improved. The current education system is not up to the level, that could yield the youth a decent job perspective. The government should keep a strict watch on the education system and try to implement new ways to generate skilled labor force. The government should select a committee to look after the schools and universities. The syllabus taught to students today is of no use to the industries, particularly the higher education. Education should match the current requirements of the industries. Before completing degrees, a practical knowledge should be given to the college graduates.
Also, today’s youth should join vocational training institutes and colleges and select the proper course training that will fit in the demands of the job market.
The government should encourage and develop the agricultural- based industries in rural areas so that the rural candidates don’t migrate to the urban areas. More employment opportunities should be generated in rural areas for the seasonal unemployment people.
Rapid Industrialization should be created.
The development of the rural areas will stop the migration of the rural people to the urban areas, and this will not put more pressure on the urban city jobs.
The government should allow more foreign companies to open offices in Puntland, so that more employment opportunities will be available.
For the youth, they should think how to create their own job opportunities instead of waiting for job advertisements
They should accept any job for any salary at any place except that gives them opportunities.
They should believe their competences and think about how to become entrepreneurs instead of employees.
Mohamud Isse Yusuf
Email: [email protected]
Mohamud is the Executive Director of Puntland Center for Training and Development as well as a Lecturer at East Africa University-Qardho Campus
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