Surveying labour market essential for youth

Training providers should be offering short “crash courses” and surveying the job market to offer training that graduates actually need, rather than sticking to their existing programmes.

This is according to the Pacific region Director of the International Labour Organisation, Donglin Li, who was in Samoa for the multi-regional meeting of the SAMOA Pathway member States. 

He said the rise in youth unemployment rates risks social instability, and it’s partly down to training institutions to fix it.

“Globally, we have 200 million people unemployed, including 80 million youth, and very year 40 million graduates come to the market,” he said.

“There is a vicious cycle where the more graduates from training institutions there are, the higher the unemployment rate.”

Mr. Li said these institutions need to be going out and surveying the labour market to understand the actual labour needs in order to produce graduates who can find work.

“That’s why in some countries, you see young people just roaming around, because they don’t have jobs, and in some countries they have high rates of street crime because they don’t have jobs,” he said.

But it’s not just down to the trainers. Government need to rally together to write social and economic policies that can make a difference.

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“First, we need to have collective action, not only from the Ministry of Labour or from one single ministry, but it should be a concerted policy to put job creation at the centre of a national social and economic policy,” Mr. Li said.

The International Labour Organisation (I.L.O.) works in each country to connect the private sector with the training institutions in productive forums. Mr. Li said when the two have regular interactions; they can more easily match labour demand with useful supply.

“And government can also join, maybe to provide a subsidy to this kind of linkage,” he said.

According to the I.L.O, unemployment in Samoa in 2017 was at nearly 18 per cent.

Where unemployment is a problem, seasonal jobs abroad can help. Mr Li. said the I.L.O. supports seasonal employment opportunities, providing the countries receiving workers don’t abuse them.

“At I.L.O. we always highlight the social aspects of things and we’ve heard of labour abuse cases in the receiving countries of seasonal workers,” he said.

But the benefits are many. Learning new skills, earning a good wage and sending remittances home are all good reasons to support seasonal work.

“I know some high skilled workers do find work overseas, but I also see some return, to build their own country and also, they send remittances. So we cannot say it is 100 percent wrong,” Mr Li said.

But as well as providing opportunities to work abroad, countries should invest in creating jobs for their talented young people.

“We also need countries to provide good policy to attract these talented people to remain in the country,” he said.

“In what way are you trying to attract your talented youth to remain in the country, and even as they move out, how do you attract them to come back?”

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