Youth Employment Policies in East Africa
Despite the global economic and financial crisis of 2007 African countries have witnessed economic growth rates averaging 5 per cent for the period between late 1990s into the first decade of the second millennium.
Despite the global economic and financial crisis of 2007 African countries have witnessed economic growth rates averaging 5 per cent for the period between late 1990s into the first decade of the second millennium. However the tremendous economic growth rates have not resulted in welfare gains for the citizens of these African countries.
Many have observed that while employment growth is constrained in the absence of economic growth it is not automatic either in conditions of economic growth, therefore resulting in “Jobless growth.” Therefore, a reemphasis on the importance of developmental policies to focus not only on macro-economic variables but also on labour market issues and employment creation is beginning to emerge as a priority for African states.
In the quest to develop “pro-growth” policies, it has been acknowledged that Macroeconomic policies resulting in positive employment outcomes are gaining ground as the preferred kind of pro-growth policies. Countries that have experienced significant poverty reduction have witnessed increased employment outcomes, consistent with the fundamental linkage between employment and poverty reduction. Therefore macroeconomic policy reforms that result in high growth are increasingly becoming important in the academic circles as well as policy formulation arena, with an emerging consensus that high growth that results in significant welfare improvements is good growth solely on its ability to generate positive employment outcomes.
Secondly the challenge of unemployment and underemployment is increasingly becoming the key socioeconomic issue for governments and political leaders. High population growth rates in East African states averaging 3 per cent annually for the last 15 years have seen significant changes in the demographic structures with youth (people aged between 15 to 24) comprising over 50 per cent of the population.
The emerging problem of youth unemployment is especially grave as a segment of the labour force that is disproportionately affected. Finally structural changes in the national economies with a shift towards greater GDP contribution by the informal sector, impacts highly on the quality of employment created. Informal sector jobs are characterized by low productivity, low wages, poor working conditions, and lack of access to fundamental rights for the workers.
This has further complicated 3 employment policies particularly for young people, as new entrants to the labour market, structural shifts result in majority entering the informal sector thus impacting negatively on poverty reduction outcomes.
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