The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has reported a rise in global youth unemployment with prospects that the number of unemployed youth globally will rise by half a million in 2016 to reach 71 million.
But the ILO fears that the figures may rise even higher as many young people who are working do not earn enough to lift themselves out of poverty.
Roughly, the global labour body estimates that 156 million youth in emerging and developing countries live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 per capita per day or in moderate poverty, between $1.90 and $3.10 despite being in employment.
The statistics, contained in the ILO’s latest World Employment Outlook: Trends for Youth 2016, show that youth exhibit a higher incidence of working poverty than adults with 37.7 percent of working youth living in extreme or moderate poverty in 2016, compared to 26 percent
In Malawi, although the government elevated the Ministry of Labour to be among priority ministries, there have been calls that the government should engage long term solutions to address rampant unemployment levels in the country.
In its maiden labour survey report for the country released two years ago, the National Statistical Office put formal unemployment at 21 percent.
In reaction, economic commentators said it would be difficult to bring the figures down in the absence of clear strategies on how the country can achieve meaningful job growth and identifying investments needed so that the desired growth can be attained.
And the Communication workers Union says Malawi needs to adopt a holistic long term approach to bring down unemployment figures.
General Secretary of the Union, Hamilton Deleza, said the challenge has been concentration on entrepreneurship while not directing resources to improve education standards in the country.
“We need to invest in the education sector, that is the main area that we can address unemployment because when you are educated or have basic education, it is easier to find something to do, even if you are going into entrepreneurship,” Deleza said.
But government is optimistic that its community colleges programme will spur job creation through the impartation of vocational skills.
The ILO says the unemployment crisis is behind the rise in migration of young people abroad in search of better education and employment opportunities.
It says the willingness to migrate among youth is highest in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In 2015, almost 51 million international migrants were aged between of 15 and 29, more than half of whom resided in developed economies. Additionally, in 2015, 20 per cent of the global youth population in this age range were willing to move permanently to another country,” the report said.