Dealing with unemployment should be a matter of urgency

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 19 September 2017, 12:00AM

We know this much is undeniable. A lot of our social and criminal problems of today could easily have been resolved if there were sufficient employment opportunities made available to the population of this island nation.

The logic is quite simple. When people have jobs, they have money. That money provides them with an opportunity to look after themselves; people who depend on them and so forth.

That’s correct. The economy is stimulated because those people have money to spend. What’s more, people are quite contented with what they have and criminal offenses would be the last thing on their minds. 

But what happens when there are no jobs? Where do unemployed people go? What becomes of children, families and entire communities who depend on people who are employed? 

Is there a connection between high unemployment and statistics about crime and social problems? We’ll touch on this later in this piece. 

But the truth is staring us unblinkingly in the face. Everyday – including on the pages of your newspaper - we see the plight of people who are unemployed. They are suffering and they don’t seem to have a choice but resort to desperate measures to get by. Mothers, fathers, men, women, boys and girls.

It’s true that Samoa has a lot of fertile soil. But you can only be a subsistent farmer for so long. There comes a time when as an individual you need a hand to help you out of the mire.

When it comes to unemployment, the issue is especially apparent in villages on the outskirts of Apia where more and more people are flooding in search of a better life. You see these people everyday, especially grown men and women who have nothing to do. They sit around idle and goodness knows what is going on in those skulls.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are worrying times. It’s not just people who have no qualifications that are unemployed. Many young people fresh out of college, tertiary or vocational training centres remain unemployed.

It’s not that they don’t want to work. Where do you go looking for something that doesn’t exist? Where would all these people find jobs if there aren’t any available?

To be fair, the government and the private sector have started to work to create openings for a number of unemployed young people to find work. One such great example is a programme driven by the Chamber of Commerce where they are working with the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development to find jobs for young people who otherwise wouldn’t have such an opportunity. This is a great start and something that should continue to be developed and supported.

But we need more. We need the government to be coming up with new ideas on job creation. We need the government to provide an enabling environment to allow the private sector to flourish and create new factories and businesses that offer work to the unemployed. 

The worry is that in Samoa today, so many able bodied people have nothing to do. They are just roaming up and down the streets doing nothing. We have a situation where there are simply far too many school leavers with very few job opportunities.

Where do we go from here? 

And what are we to do?

Well, we want to remind today that the link between unemployment and the increase in criminal activities has been well documented. This is not to say that this should be an excuse to validate crime or that every unemployed person will turn to crime as an alternative.

But sadly, some do.  And that’s what we all don’t want. 

It should definitely be a motivating factor for all involved to ensure that jobs are made available for people to earn a decent living.

What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 19 September 2017, 12:00AM

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