Globally, the unemployment rate is estimated to stand at some 197.1 million, and is forecasted to rise. It is also predicted that an additional 1.1 million jobless will likely be added to the global tally. These findings, which are considered very useful to governments and policy makers, were included in ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends (WESO) published.
There are several reasons for the rising unemployment rate in many countries; most notably, the significant slowdown in emerging economies since 2007, and the sharp decline in commodity prices, among others. If the current trends continue, it is clear that the unemployment situation for many countries will get worse. This therefore makes a strong case for all stakeholders to make the necessary bold decisions and move towards implementing effective policies which aim to minimise the impact on the rising unemployment rate on citizens everywhere.
According to the WESO outlook, while there has been a decrease in poverty rates, the rate of decline in the number of working poor in developing economies has slowed, and vulnerable employment still accounts for over 46 per cent of total employment globally, affecting nearly 1.5 billion people.
The authors of the WESO also document the fact that job quality remains a major challenge.
The lack of decent jobs leads people to turn to informal employment, which is typically characterised by low productivity, low pay, and no social protection.
A similar situation exists in Guyana, where many young people are unemployed or are just not finding suitable jobs to match their qualifications and experience. A study conducted by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) found that Guyana had a youth unemployment rate of about 40 per cent. According to the report’s findings, the regional countries with the highest persistent youth unemployment were Guyana and Suriname.
It would be worthwhile to mention, too, that since the APNU/AFC Coalition Government took political power in May 2015, they have not come up with any detailed plan on how they intend to address the unemployment crisis in the country. The present Government campaigned on the promise that it would provide thousands of jobs for citizens, but, so far, hardly any tangible effort has been made in this regard. In fact, what we have seen is the opposite – over 7000 sugar workers were fired, while many other persons were removed from their positions for reasons which were highly questionable.
That said, unemployment and poverty are two of the main challenges that countries — both developed and developing — are faced with at present. Unemployment leads to financial crisis, and reduces the overall purchasing capacity of a nation. This, in turn, results in persons getting in the bracket of poverty, followed by increasing burden of debt.
Young people everywhere, both skilled and unskilled, have been crying out for decent jobs. Far too many young people in the region are being pushed to the margins of society – unable to obtain a quality education, or secure a good job so that they can help to break the cycle of poverty which continues to plague their families and communities.
We had stated before that access to quality education is essential if one were to seize the opportunities and emerge from poverty. Everyone must have the opportunity to develop themselves, have their rights protected, and have access to basic services. The way to achieving this is by including fair, inclusive social policies in national development agendas which focus on supporting vulnerable groups in various communities.
Further, we stress the need for more collaboration between Government and the private sector, with the aim of increasing the scale of targeted youth programmes. This is necessary if young people are to be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to allow them to function effectively in the working world.
While there are a few such programmes in Guyana, the question remains as to how effective they have been in meeting the needs of our youth and the country as a whole.
We anxiously await the 2019 Budget, which is expected to be presented to the Parliament before December. Our hope is that the Administration would take into account the need to design policies and programmes which allow for the creation of employment and training opportunities for our youth.