Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) says the operating environment in the just-ended year stifled the job market, suppressing new and existing jobs.
In a written response on Tuesday to assess the job market in view of the new Covid-19 variant, Ecam executive director George Khaki said challenges emanating from the pandemic, especially disruptions in global supply chains, continue to impact on productivity locally.
“Petroleum price increases have pushed up costs of production, thereby causing inflationary pressures on the local market and depressing consumer confidence which has dampened prospects for job creation,” he said.
Khaki said this year remains uncertain for jobs with the Omicron variant causing havoc, especially with the country’s major trading partners coming up with measures that could hurt developing countries.
He said the shortage of foreign exchange is also worrisome as it affects imports, including fuel, fertilisers and medical drugs.
Khaki further said the weather outlook with predictions of floods which could reduce crop output, will also affect the economy and job creation.
He said: “Our economy is agriculture-based and any reduction in agriculture productivity and a rise in food-related inflation will reduce aggregate demand for goods and services.
“When companies are not able to make and sell more it means fewer jobs will be created in the economy.”
Institute for People Management in Malawi president Godwin Ng’oma in an interview on Tuesday said the just-ended year saw some stability in the job market compared to 2020 when jobs were at stake.
He said: “Due to the 2019 and 2020 job losses, organisations have adjusted their way of doing business as such many did not re-employ the same numbers they retrenched or took out of work.”
“Though 2021 saw organisations going back to employment, resulting in a positive movement in the job market, this did not bring recovery in the job market.”
The Malawi job market was hit hard by the impact of the Covid-19 where 273 712 people lost jobs in the first half of 2020, according to a survey conducted by the Ecam.
Ecam estimated that by the first quarter of 2021, 680 496 jobs would be lost in view of the pandemic.
Malawi Congress of Trade Union is on record as having said that employers are hoping for the best as businesses adapt to the new normal and learn to live with the pandemic.
Globally, job losses have been inevitable in view of the Covid-19 pandemic where 8.8 percent of global working hours were lost relative to the fourth quarter of 2020, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, according to the International Labour Organisation.