Following the presidential election in December, Gambian voters are all set to make another important decision as they prepare to vote in the upcoming parliamentary election in April and the local government election next year. On top of the agenda, especially for young Gambians, is the high unemployment rate, which forced many into criminal activities as well as endangering their lives on a perilous journey to Europe, using the backway in search of greener pastures.
According to the 2018 Labour Force Survey conducted by the Gambia Bureau of Statistics’ (GBoS), the youth unemployment rate has increased to 41.5%.
A 20-year-old, Nfamara Jammeh, a native of Banjul said they would vote for the candidate who will advocate youth employment during the parliamentary election so that the current government will find a solution to solve the youth unemployment in the country in 2022.
The consequence of youth unemployment has been tipped to be the cause of the rising violent crime, armed robbery, theft, and prostitution in the country.
Jammeh added when the unemployment rate is high in a country, it would cause crimes such as theft, robbery, and certain immoral behaviours in the society.
Jammeh urged the government to ensure that the rate of unemployment is reduced by allowing investors to create more job opportunities for the young people of this country.
He stressed that it is frustrating for youngsters to complete more than a decade of expensive education and suffer afterward without jobs.
According to the national employment policy and action plan 2022 to 2030, glaring employment deficits both in terms of levels and quality highlight the need for comprehensive national employment policies that provide a clear framework for addressing working poverty, creating jobs, increasing earnings of male and female employees and decreasing youth unemployment and discouragement.
Another youth, Lamin Fofana, a 20-year-old who lives in Abuko, said lack of employment is affecting him as job opportunities are rarely available causing his frustration.
“We are the youth, and we need jobs to earn a living. We are tired of depending on our parents for a living,” he lamented.
He said lack of employment has pushed him away from his community stigmatisation that he lacks ambition since he had completed secondary school education.
In terms of voting, Fofana decided that he will vote for a parliamentary candidate who is committed to supporting policies that would reduce unemployment among youth.
According to the GBoS Labour Force Survey, among the working-age population, 14.9 percent are economically active while 85 percent are usually economically inactive. And for those who were outside the labour force, 39.8 percent are between the ages 15 to 24 and 31 percent are of the ages 36-64 while 29 percent are between 25-35 years.
Mamadou Jallow, a 25-year-old who lives in Wellingara in the West Coast Region, said he will only vote for candidates who will advocate for youth empowerment during the parliamentary and local government election in 2023.
He believed the local government should play a key role by rightfully implementing the taxes paid to the area councils in which 60 percent is mandated to be ploughed back to taxpayers through development.
“Community development can create job opportunities for the youth so during the parliamentary election, I will vote for the one (candidate) who will advocate for the creation of jobs in my community because it will help to reduce the unemployment rate among youth,'' he said.