The Centre for Trade Policy and Development has urged government to find time to listen to the challenges young people face other than telling them what we think needs to be done.
CTPD Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo is greatly concerned with the rising unemployment in the country.
Mr. Mwaipopo noted that Zambia has an estimated total labor force of 3.4 million people of which about 427,000 people are unemployed.
He said it is important to note that about 36.7 percent of the total national population are youths and that the youth have peculiarities which make them more vulnerable to being unemployed.
Mr. Mwaipopo said youth unemployment in Zambia is estimated at about 10.5%, which is higher than the national average unemployment of about 7.4%.
“When Zambia Army advertised for 1,500 positions in 2016, more than 168,000 people applied. In 2018, Zambia Police was looking for 1,000 constables, an overwhelming 57,601 application were sent. This is worrying, it requires urgent attention from the powers that be”, Mr. Mwaipopo said.
He said it is important for government to reflect and highlight what has been done to create a conducive environment for young people to grow and thrive.
Mr. Mwaipopo said strategic documents such as the 2015 National Youth Policy spell out intentions that seeks to provide equal access to opportunities while the National Action Plan for Youth Empowerment and Employment targets to create 200,000 jobs annually of which 40% should be for the youths.
He regretted that there is a huge gap and mismatch between the targets in the Action Plan and the annual budgetary allocations meant for youth employment creation and promotion of children’s rights.
“We have observed that Zambia is increasingly dedicating more resources towards debt servicing and thus leaving the government with limited ability to stimulate the economy for higher employment for the nation at larger and young people in particular”, he added.
Mr. Mwaipopo said CTPD is further concerned that social sector spending has been reducing as demonstrated by the relative low funding to tertiary education compared to primary and secondary education.
He has since urged government to join hands with young people in finding lasting solutions to the challenges they are facing.
Mr. Mwaipopo said there is great need to move away from the old tradition of always addressing young people and start finding time to listen to them.