UN urges Africa to develop joint strategy to reduce unemployment

The United Nations labour agency on Thursday urged Africa's government, private sector, trade unions to develop joint strategy to increase supply of decent jobs.

Susana Puerto, senior youth employment specialist at the International Labour Organisation (ILO), told at a forum in Nairobi that a bulk of African youth are working in informal sectors of the economy.

"We are therefore calling for a joint strategy to be developed by all key stakeholders that will ensure Africa's youth has access to formal jobs," said Puerto.

Puerto said that despite broad perceptions, unemployment levels in sub-Saharan Africa are approximately 12 percent.

She added that sub-Saharan Africa has relatively high employment levels because the youth have to make a living and therefore do any jobs that are available.

"As a result, most of the youth are in the informal sector which is characterized by low productivity and lack of social protection," she noted.

The ILO official rooted for the academic institutions to train students with skills that employers are seeking in order to boost employment rates.

Puerto said that the large informal sector means wasted potential for the millions of youth who eke out a living from that sector.

"There is therefore need for strategy to help the African labor force transit to the formal sectors," she added.

Njuguna Ndung'u, executive director of African Economic Research Consortium, said that youth employment remains one of the most urgent challenges for policy makers in Africa.

Ndung'u said that the number of young people who join the labor force annually exceeds the rate at which stable wage paying jobs are created.

He noted that harnessing the potential of Africa's youth continues to be at the forefront of government and donor agendas.

Xinhua

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