Unemployment is not unique to Malawi. It is not only a problem that many economies are grappling with.
It is a widespread challenge that every responsible government endeavours to address.
Nevertheless, it is an enormous challenge in developing countries—and it has devastating social, economic, political and psychological consequences.
The higher the unemployment rate in an economy, the higher the poverty levels and associated setbacks on citizens’ welfare.
Add to it the bulging youthful population across the continent and you will understand why countries must invest in creating decent jobs and skilled labour force to attain the prosperous future the framers of Vision 2020 envisioned.
The country has a large young population which comprises almost 3.3 million persons aged between 15 and 24 years old.
This is against a backdrop of massive youth unemployment rate estimated at 14 percent, according to the Danish Trade Union Council for International Development’s labour market profile of 2014.
The situation certainly has not changed much over the past few years.
In fact, it may have worsened as the turbulent economic times, which the country is sailing through, keeps pushing private companies to lay off employees.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines the unemployed as numbers of the economically active population who are without work but available for and seeking work. This definition includes people who have lost their jobs and those who have voluntarily left work.
Rapid population growth, a rapidly expanding urban labour force arising from rural-urban migration as well as expansion of the education system are some of the causes of youth unemployment.
The country’s population is growing at 3.32 percent yearly.
This is high for a small landlocked country like ours.
High population growth rate has resulted in the growth of the labour force which is far outstripping the supply of jobs.
As is the case in other developing countries, young Malawians are trekking from rural localities to urban areas hoping to secure jobs in industries, among other things.
This owes to a number of push and pull factors. Lately the education system in Malawi has expanded.
The past few years have seen an increase in the number of universities both public and private.
Some of these universities are enrolling students every semester as opposed to the old system of enrolling students annually.
Consequently, there has been an increase in the supply of educated manpower which is certainly above the corresponding demand for them.
The contracted job market seems saturated.
Whatever the causes of unemployment, entrepreneurship is arguably the best remedy. Youth entrepreneurship.
Therefore, government, the private sector and relevant stakeholders need to place sufficient attention and emphasis on churning out a cadre of entrepreneurs—job creators, not job seekers.
According to Oxford Scholar, youth entrepreneurship is the practical application of enterprising qualities, such as initiative, innovation, creativity, and risk-taking into the work environment, using the appropriate skills necessary for success in that environment and culture.
The youth are well suited for entrepreneurship for they are naturally disposed to innovation and change.
The likes of Apple mogul Steve Jobs, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Google co-founder Larry Page came up with products that have revolutionised the world when they were young.
Besides coming up with products that have made life a lot easier for individuals and companies, they have also created thousands of jobs worldwide.
Becoming an entrepreneur potentially offers benefits to young people by deepening their human capital attributes—self-reliance, skill development—and increasing their levels of happiness.
Furthermore, entrepreneurship is a way of integrating young people into the labour market. Entrepreneurship is also desirable because entrepreneurs increase innovation, raise competition and also respond to changing economic opportunities and trends. n