Surmounting Youth Employment Challenges

Ensuring decent jobs for all citizens, especially youth who, in most cases, constitute the bulk of the population, is almost always a perpetual teething problem most governments grapple with. Cameroon is not left out as public authorities work tooth and nail to make job conditions favourable for her youth who relentlessly scramble for scarce jobs in the competitive world.

In the face of the huge challenge, the Head of State, Paul Biya, has been steadfast in instructing government on the steps to take to create job openings for the youth but as well boosting the morale of his young compatriots so that they don’t hope against hope in the tribulations that come with either not finding what to do or working below training capacity.

His traditional Youth Day Message on February 10, 2019 on the eve of the 53rd National Youth Day was another moment for Mr Biya to sound the alarm bell, telling youth that he has not been insensitive to their difficulties and aspirations. “During my swearing-in ceremony, I once more made the commitment to facilitate the social integration of youth,” he said. President Paul Biya reminded his young compatriots that besides recruitments into the defence and security forces, other actors have not relented in implementing projects and programmes in sectors susceptible to ensuring a better insertion of youth into active society.

He singled out the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education notably with its civic education and national integration campaign which involved more than one million youth and has resulted in the training of 1,300 conscripts by the National Civic Service Agency for Participation in Development. Worthy of note also is the promotion of volunteerism which has helped to train thousands of volunteers for education and health development support operations in priority areas, guidance to youth organisations; youth socio-economic integration by training thousands of them, some of whom are entrepreneurs, the least of which is not the Three-year “Special Youth” Plan involving more than 600,000 people. “Thus, nearly 4,000 projects have been developed in the agricultural, industrial, digital economy and innovation sectors, and adequate financing also provided,” the Head of State disclosed.

That President Paul Biya went into details, giving statistics in most cases is telling of the place of youth employment in his plan to journey Cameroon into a middle-income economy. Understandably so as an employed person in any society is an asset not only to his/her family and generations to come but equally a useful tool for national development. The reverse can be catastrophic cognizant of the fact that an idle mind, as they say, is a devil’s workshop. The efforts put in place by government are visibly resounding.

In fact, President Paul Biya qualified the actions as “remarkable” but not good enough to meet up with the growing job needs from the youth who continually graduate from the many public and private higher institutions of learning every year. Had it been the economy was buoyant enough, absorbing the tens of thousands of youth joining the labour market each year wouldn’t have been this difficult. This obliges many of the youth to accept unskilled jobs to avoid unemployment. As a way out, President Paul Biya proposes a three-face solution: Government to adopt measures to revive the economy; business people from all over the world to invest in Cameroon and for the youth to seize every available employment opportunity.

All these require concerted action with each actor working to strengthen the other in areas and moments of hardship. Government should principally target growth-induced sectors in reviving the economy, strive to improve the business environment and put in place investment-friendly measures capable of pulling especially direct foreign investors to ‘risk’ their money in the country and for youth to shun easy life and maximise the many available opportunities.

Once all stakeholders put the interest of today and tomorrow’s Cameroon at the fore, certain ungentlemanly behaviours like personal interest; for managers, and giving in to manipulation; by the youth, would be history. And together, acceptable solutions would be sought to the difficult youth employment equation. A huge challenge worth surmounting after all!

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