More soul searching needed to end unemployment in Malawi

Malawi Population

Malawi has an uphill task to end unemployment trends that have largely crippled the youth who continue to scramble for jobs, an analyst has said.

An economic expert has argued that there should be unending concerted efforts towards reducing trends of unemployment in Malawi – a nation whose economy continues to stagger despite a recent projection by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the economy is fast recovering.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi24, the expert Joshua Mbewe said the mindset of people getting jobs after doing school needs to be put to a halt and that Malawians need to embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Joshua Mbewe
Mbewe says the Government must oversee job creation.

“We should also do away with the issue of saying go to school so that you should be able to get a job. This statement has also contributed to the laziness of so many youths. We have made them think that getting a job is the only way to go after school. More emphasis should be made on entrepreneurship which will lead to the creation of more jobs,’’ Mbewe said when asked on why mindset change is core towards doing away with alarming rates of unemployment.

In addition, Mbewe said that the government also needs to ensure there are monitored progresses in job creation and also woo as many investors as possible.

He argued that it would be imperative for government to monitor the issue of job creation on monthly basis and attach it to each and every Ministry.

He said: “Government has to create a special fund for the youths where they can be getting loans with soft interest so that more youths should be engaged in some economic activities. The loans should have special areas of investment and one of it should be agriculture industry. We need to start engaging the youth on agriculture investments because they seem not to be interested in this area but if we can guide and put some incentives on Agricultural programs our economy will grow within a shortest period.”

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than half of Malawi’s young people are either unemployed or working low wage jobs. The population continues to scramble for jobs right now.

Malawi Population
Scramble for jobs is becoming serious in Malawi. (Image credit: Dawin Meckel)

But what threat does the unemployment of the youth pose to the nation? Mbewe said if empowered, the youth could drive the economy.

“Youths have all what it takes to grow economy for example the output for a youth in any job cannot measured with that of middle aged man. When youths are staying idle that’s a step backward for the country,” Mbewe told this reporter in an email response last week.

A larger population of the youth have also trekked to South Africa to fetch greener pastures.

Hundreds of Malawians take the long journey to South Africa without proper travel documents a development that put them in fear of deportation once caught by the authorities.

Government has incessantly been asked to empower the youth so that the numbers be reduced.

Recently, over 1000 illegal Malawian immigrants were detained in the Rainbow nation for not having proper travel documents. More than half of these were the youth who travelled to fetch jobs.

By 2013, according to the Malawi Labour Force Survey 2013 Key Findings Report from the National Statistical Office in association with the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Industry and Trade, unemployment rate among all economically active population in Malawi, based on the ILO broad definition, is at 21 percent.

Henry Mussa
Mussa admits Government is worried with unemployment trends.

‘’ Among the youth, age 15-34, unemployment rate is at 23 percent using the broad  ILO definition. Unemployment rate is slightly higher among the youth age 15-24 years. When  the strict ILO definition is used, unemployment rate is only 7 percent among all economically  active population in Malawi. Low unemployment rates also obtained for the youth age 15-24 and those age 15-34,’’ reads the report in part.

In making a contribution, Frederick Muia who is a senior advisor for Africa at the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) during a two-day conference on matters of unemployment in Africa, said that high youth unemployment that is a ticking time bomb for the continent.

According to the IOE, the global youth unemployment rate is three times the adult unemployment rate.

Recently, minister of labour, youth, and manpower development Henry Mussa told Malawi24 that government has already begun setting up plans to ease unemployment.

He said much as changing the curriculum may be vital, it may be a long term process and that government has already thought of technical colleges which will help impart entrepreneurship knowledge in many youths.
Government has also indicated it is planning to include mind changing education in secondary schools in order to prepare the youth for entrepreneurship.