A study on how industries can address Africa’s youth unemployment crisis has found that sectors that share key firm characteristics with manufacturing such as tourism can serve as a strong alternative to creating good jobs for the youth.
The study whose research was done by Brookings —an American research group—and the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research, has established that African nations, including Malawi needs to create 12 million jobs annually to absorb youth entering the labour market.
The study found that employment has moved from agriculture to mostly informal low-productivity services, by-passing manufacturing whose output has stagnated at around 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) since the 1970s and its employment share is lower.
The study says growth in tourism is outpacing manufacturing in many African countries, including Malawi where at partly below a 0.5 rank, Malawi is below the 0.7 rank benchmark.
“Tourism has the potential to create some of the millions of formal sector jobs Africa needs each year to employ youth entering the labour force.
“The sector has the same average employment elasticity as manufacturing and much higher than that for the aggregate economy, highlighting its job creation potential,” reads the report in part.
In Malawi, young people continue to face challenges on the labour market despite them constituting about 60 percent of the country’s population, according to the 2018 Population and Housing Census report.
On the other hand, the influence of the Tourism sector globally continues to grow and according to the 2019 Annual Economic Report, the total contribution of tourism to GDP increased from K345 billion to K403 billion last year.
The total contribution of the sector to employment is currently at 6.7 percent.
Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) vice-president Buxton Kayuni said skills shortage in the industry is a big issue.
He said there is a mismatch between the skills needed in industry and the skills being produced by training institutions.
“Industry players are complaining that graduates coming from our training institutions do not meet the required grade in the industry and huge investments in staff development have to be made to enable graduates fit in the industry,” he said.
Kayuni said employers are increasingly looking for higher cognitive skills like communication, team-working, critical thinking, emotional intelligence and problem-solving.