Despite record literacy rates and increases in education spending, youth unemployment remains a serious problem, writes Joshua Hamlet, a 23-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent from San Fernando in Trinidad and Tobago.
A recent graduate commonly has two thoughts once examinations are complete. First they realize that leisure activities can begin, and then they ask: ‘What to do now?’
A major issue affecting young people coming out of tertiary education is access to jobs. The instructions after completing your degree seem to be ‘print out as many resumes as possible and beat the streets like Armageddon is about to arrive’.
This correlates to the current trend of education inflation, whereby as academic requirements increase the availability in the job market decreases.
World Bank statistics state literacy rate for youth in Latin America and the Caribbean at an impressive 97%, and this not surprising since public spending on education is relatively high in this region.
The percentage of government expenditure on education in Barbados is 14.3%, in St. Lucia 10.3% and Colombia at 14.9%, demonstrating a commitment to education and literacy. Contrastingly, unemployment figures are less inspiring, with 7.9% unemployment of the labour force, and double digit figures for youth unemployment.
A recent International Labour Organization report outlines that at least 70 million young people are unemployed internationally and youth employment rates are considerably lower than for the population as a whole in almost all countries.
The reports point out that youth unemployment is especially troublesome in developing countries which are primarily filled with Commonwealth nations. Overall conclusions suggest that educational qualifications will continually increase, however the job market may not.
This translates powerfully as youth joblessness in countries that are expanding economically may indicate the existence of multifaceted structural problems that are not removed merely by economic development. In most countries youth unemployment figures are higher than overall unemployment figures.
One prominent explanation is that despite investment in education, the education system is not producing employable individuals. This results in higher unemployment levels in the more (rather than less) educated, especially young people.
This is not surprising however. From personal experiences an increase in academic qualifications tends to push one into job markets that are less inclusive. There are no university graduates that willfully want to work at entry level in a franchise and rightfully so. Youth employment is not merely about transition from university to career but about nurturing the values that underpin wealth creation.
The persistence of this problem leads to one to question which entity should bear the brunt of responsibility. Governments and civil society should be interested in doing more.
In Trinidad and Tobago, when colliding with nepotism in the jobs market, youth unemployment is extremely stressful for young graduates with many being relegated to hinterlands of the labour market. Personally, by the time you finish read this little piece I hope l will have left that stage and finally found a job.
If not, it’s more resume printing and beating the streets until success arrives.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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