Improving agriculture’s contributions, solution to unemployment, vulne

28Sep 2016
Daniel Semberya
The Guardian
Improving agriculture’s contributions, solution to unemployment, vulne

INTERNATIONAL Labour Organisation (ILO) recently launched “World Employment and Social Outlook Youth Trends report that has revealed that youth unemployment is on the rise after several years of improvement.

Agriculture employs two-thirds of all workers but creates barely more than one-quarter of output (and therefore, incomes.

According to the report, the global youth unemployment rate is on the rise, reaching 13.1 per cent in 2016 (from 12.9 in 2015) after a number of years of improvement and expected to remain at 13.2 per cent in 2017.

As a result, after falling by some 3 million between 2012 and 2015, the number of unemployed youth globally will rise by half a million in 2016 to reach 71 million and will remain at this level in 2017.

The report also indicates that global economic growth in 2016 is estimated at 3.2 per cent, 0.4 percentage points lower than late 2015 estimates.

The downward revision is a result of recessions that were deeper than expected in some key emerging countries, including Argentina, Brazil and the Russian Federation. Furthermore, growth in developing countries, at only 4.2 per cent in 2016, is at its lowest level since 2003.

On the youth employment trends like in developing countries, Africa, the report indicates that, the continent continues to be confronted with high levels of unemployment, vulnerable employment and working poverty with little signs of potential recovery in 2017.

The deterioration is particularly marked in emerging countries where the unemployment rate is predicted to rise from 13.3 per cent in 2015 to 13.7 per cent in 2017- a figure which corresponds to 53.5 million unemployed in 2017, compared to 52.9 million in 2015.
The youth unemployment rate in developing countries is expected to remain relatively stable, at around 9.5 per cent in 2016.

This will increase by around 0.2 million in 2016 to reach 7.9 million unemployed youth in 2017, largely due to an expanding labour force. In developed countries, the unemployment rate among youth is anticipated to be the highest globally in 2016 (14.5 per cent or 9.8 million) and is expected to decline to 14.3 in 2017.

The research discloses that the youth unemployment rate in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to continue on its downward trajectory, since 2012, reaching 10.9 per cent in 2016 and decreasing slightly to 10.8 in the following year.

Moreover, while the youth labour force participation rate is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa at 54.2 per cent, the region’s enrolment rates in secondary and tertiary education is the lowest among all regions.

Concerning job quality for youth especially in emerging and developing countries, this remains a major concern for youth. Unemployment figures understate the true extent of youth labour market challenges since large numbers of young people are working, but do not earn enough to lift themselves out of poverty.

In fact, roughly 156 million youth in emerging and developing countries live in extreme poverty on less than USD1.90 per capita per day) or in moderate poverty on between USD1.90 and USD3.10 despite being in employment.

Moreover, youth exhibit a higher incidence of working poverty than adults: 37.7 per cent of working youth are living in extreme or moderate poverty in 2016, compared to 26 per cent of working adults.

Meanwhile, in developed countries with available information, youth are more at risk of relative poverty (defined here as living on less than 60 per cent of median income) despite having a job. For example, the share of employed youth categorised as being at risk of poverty was 12.9 per cent in the EU-28in 2014, compared to 9.6 per cent of working adults, i.e. aged 25–54.

Commenting on the report, ILO Director, Country Office for Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, Dr Mary Kawar, told The Guardian that the main causative factors for the rising unemployment rates in the developing world were mainly driven by the slowdown in emerging economies.

Dr Kawar who has been in Tanzania now for slightly less than a year, suggests that in order for the Tanzanian government to see the youth employment trends improving it should adopt and implement the Sustainable Development Goal 8 under the Global SDGs, which “Promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all” calls for sustained per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum.

Economic growth and decent employment creation, do not always go together, however, placement of job creation and Decent Work as an outcome of economic growth should be taken as a priority.

“We should consider and improve the contribution of agriculture in employment and national output. Agriculture employs two-thirds of all workers but creates barely more than one-quarter of output and therefore, incomes.”

It is obvious that the current updating of the 2008 National Employment Policy would need to be supported by broader economic and sectoral policies such as investments in roads, energy, and communications that would raise productivity in agriculture, where most of Tanzanians are employed, as well as other sectors where new and increasingly more educated workers will start moving into.

She further retaliated that there was also a need to expand the private sector through supporting micro small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) and upgrading informal sector cooperatives.

Again, the Goal calls for promotion of development oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation and encourage the formalisation and growth of micro small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) including through access to financial services.

It is an undeniable fact that the private sector is the main engine for economic growth and job creation. Yet, the formal private sector remains small in Tanzania and while it is growing, the rate of growth is slower in comparison to the growth of the labour force.

On some estimates, youth unemployment rate stands at 11.8 percent (ILFS 2014) and there are around 800,000 new entrants to the labour force each year, yet almost 90 per cent of them end up in the informal sector.

Opportunities for entrepreneurship including the formalisation of informal enterprises would need to expand by improving a supportive environment including business development services and affordable finance, IT and technological improvements.
Focusing on young women and men

With half of its population less than 18 years old, the importance of expanding education and making employers an active agent for training cannot be overrated. As many as 1 in 5 children do not complete primary education, only 1 in 3 is in lower secondary and as few as 4 percent of youth are in university.

Given the high share of people in rural areas (more than 90 percent) there should be special effort to reach out to them. The government has been exerting commendable efforts at integrating young people into decent jobs.

This has been in vocational education and entrepreneurship development among others. We should continue addressing this from a comprehensive and coherent approach focusing on the labour supply and demand and addressing the rural-urban divide in accessing decent jobs for the young people.

Commenting on the role the ILO in combating the unemployment scourge, and its advice to governments and partners, she says the ILO believes that, access to productive and decent work is the best way young people can realise their aspirations, improve their living conditions and actively participate in society.

Decent work for youth strengthens economies and creates a cadre of young consumers, savers and producers. Decent work for youth emerges where rights and opportunities converge. It guarantees that young women and men can raise their voices and exercise their leadership.

The ILO is committed to promoting the expansion of employment opportunities for young people everywhere. It is a formidable task that requires collaboration with our constituents and other partners, action and know-how.

The ILO launched recently the “What Works in Youth Employment” knowledge platform, a resource designed to improve understanding of those policies and actions that work to improve labour market outcomes for young people.

The platform draws attention to key intervention areas that are addressing the youth employment challenge, including: skills training, entrepreneurship promotion, employment services, subsidized employment, employment and economic policies, and rights for young people.

“We encourage the youth to visit and use this platform meant to expand action and partnerships on youth employment and shape global investments for youth, ensuring that youth have the opportunity and choice to build their skills and transform their energy and ideas into products and services.

Also needed most is policy action and collaboration across the board to scale-up investments in youth employment. This is indispensable if we are to achieve our collective ambition of poverty eradication and a sustainable future.”

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