United Nations concerned at Samoa’s jobless rate

By Ivamere Nataro 07 November 2018, 12:00AM

The United Nations has expressed concern at Samoa’s Employment to Population ratio of 28.9 per cent and a labour force participation of 31.5 per cent. 

This is concerning, according to the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Simona Marinescu, who highlighted the figures quoted in the U.N. Human Statistical Development Update for 2018. 

Ms. Marinescu was speaking during the opening of the “Knowledge sharing dialogue on just transition, decent work and climate change resilience in the Pacific Islands” workshop at the Orator Hotel yesterday. 

She told the Samoa Observer that Samoa does not look good in terms of employment to population ratio, compared to other Pacific Islands that are above 60 per cent. 

Employment to population ratio represents the number of people employed out of the working age population, which is 15-64 years of age bracket. Labour force participation represents the working age population, where many people have jobs or are looking for jobs, and it counts also as unemployment.

“That’s why labour force participation is a little higher (in Samoa). But it is still very low compared to other countries in the Pacific, which is a concern,” Ms. Marinescu said. 

Another concern she raised was the rate of youth unemployment in Samoa, which stands at 18 per cent. 

“This means that out of the youth population in Samoa (15-24 per cent), 18 per cent of them who are no longer studying, finished studying and are seeking jobs, do not have jobs,” she added. 

“The main challenge here is to secure jobs for young people, to ensure people stay in school and then acquire skills that are relevant to the labour market here, which is not necessarily very easy. So for us, this is a priority moving forward, the entire Unite Nations family selected youth employment as a key priority area of our joint work moving forward.”

Ms. Marinescu said there is a need to look into the actual reality of the country to make an analysis as to who the drivers are. 

“But for us the concern is here in Samoa, we would like to see that more people here are employed. The future of work shows that people are better off in entrepreneurial activities – self-employed rather than looking for traditional employment. 

“However, not everybody has entrepreneurial skills, they have to be acquired, there needs to be a system that supports that. There are challenges that the country has and we would like to work together with the Government to address them.”

Ms. Marinescu highlighted the strong presence of the tri-partitism - the trilateral dialogue initiative put in place by the International Labour Organisation (I.L.O.) - in Samoa. 

“So all countries, I.L.O. creates this mechanism of Government, employers and trade unions with equal seats to ensure that policies, laws and strategies are actually embraced by these three key partners. So it’s a very active system in Samoa that is an important enabler for progress,” she said.   

The Human Statistical Development Update presents regularly the progress that countries have made in terms of combined life expectancy income and mean years of school, access to services and employment as a source of income. 

The workshop continues. 

By Ivamere Nataro 07 November 2018, 12:00AM

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