Somalilandsun- Policymakers around the world are paying increasing attention to the younger generation and its role in shaping society. The young generation has played a major role in recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, and was pivotal to the Arab Spring as well as to the ongoing violence in places like Syria and Libya. And with unemployment figures remaining extremely high, frustrated young people represent a ticking time bomb in the developing world.
Despite a surge in the youthful demographic around the globe, current international mechanisms do not sufficiently address their specific place in peace and security, nor the role they can play in economic renewal in war and poverty-affected countries.
Almost half of the world’s population has been estimated to fall into the youth bracket. But the sad reality is that a huge number of them live in over-populated, poverty-stricken areas or conflict and crisis zones. This translates into a huge social development setback which deeply affects the ability of young people to fulfill their responsibility as the backbone of human development. This is especially true in areas of conflict or poverty, where political and economic exclusion, inequalities and the overall undermining of the role of the young threatens any sustainable peace-building process and stable economic growth.
More than half of Somalialand’s population is under 25 years of ages with the majority born after the overthrow of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.since then Somaliland has made a lot of development like rebuilding its armed forces, police, coastguard, justice, national currency, education and public financial management systems. Yet at the heart of this nation building we must look to the future and ensure that youth unemployment is also on the agenda.
The country is changing and hopes of a new epoch for Somali landers have been boosted by the inauguration of a democratically elected leader, Mr. Muse Bihi Abdi for his first speech as president to call for an end to the twin blights of corruption and youth unemployment.
But more needs to be done about the Somaliland youth whose lives have been shaped by a quarter of a century of hopeless and uncertainty of their future. More practical focus should be placed on tackling the employment vacuum.
The main challenges that Somaliland Youth face today:
A. Unemployment or underemployed: Seventy percent (70%) of Somali landers living in Somaliland are unemployed according to the World Bank data, and majority of those are the youth. There is no doubt that this joblessness, among other things, has induced the Somaliland youth to risk their lives in the high seas in search for better lives and employment.
The biggest employers in Somaliland today are the governmental institutions and a very few private sectors. However, these jobs are mostly given on the basis of “who-you-know” as long as you can produce some sort of certification or a degree regardless of its legitimacy. This unfair hiring system has discouraged many youths of staying in Somaliland. To tackle this widespread nepotism the system of hiring has to become merit based one.
United Nations Development Programme report released late last year, shed light on the ominous task facing Somaliland’s youth today. The study revealed that Somalis under 30 might constitute 70% of the population but nearly It revealed the unemployment rate for youths in Somaliland to be among the highest in the world, at a startling 67% among all 14 to 29-year olds. Most disconcertingly it stated that only 40% of Somaliland youths were actively looking for work leaving behind a hopeless and deeply discouraged majority group, two-thirds would like to leave the country.
The deeper truth behind these statistics is the emergence of a generation for whom life has been shaped by lost opportunities, an unclear identity and a growing sense of marginalization. If we don’t find a solution to youth unemployment and engage them in economic contribution to society, Somaliland’s problems could continue well into the coming years.
B. Desperate journey to Europe:
Thousands of Somaliland immigrant lives were lost in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the united nation all were looking for better lives and jobs. Majority of these youths were immigrating because of lack of employment in Somaliland.
The inevitable solutions that need to be implemented:
1. Guarantee formal and informal education for young people. channeling their power and energy into learning and development:
Moreover, since large part of secondary and university graduates struggle to find jobs for years, the government should look opportunities for them to advance their studies away. This can be done in two ways: the government giving scholarships to send them abroad, which is unlikely to happen given the government’s dependency on foreign aid. Nevertheless, the government can ask for other countries to sponsor Somaliland students. This entails in the future more skilled and highly educated workers coming back to Somaliland increasing the possibility of a sustaining economic growth.
In addition, the schooling years of the youth in the country should be extended to slow the number of youths seeking employment after school: the more they are in school the greater the possibility of them not looking for a job or risking their lives immigrating to Europe. Also, the government shall require at least one year of military service after secondary school to teach the youth some useful skills and delay them from seeking employment right away.
2. Eliminate the catalysts of conflict, including those related to economic challenges (youth unemployment) and the political exclusion of the youth:
These measures are short-term solutions for prevalent unemployment in Somaliland to slow the large influx of Somaliland’s youth risking their lives in the seas. In order Somaliland to sustain a continues growth of employment, these short measures will require continues investment in the pillars of a developing economy such as investing in its infrastructure and its governing institutions to make the country attractive for all types of investors, especially for the Somaliland youth.
Do all the hiring for the government for all the positions in the civil service. This shift will hinder or at least slow hiring people based on “who-you-know.” Also it will allow many unemployed but have the right education and training to get the jobs they deserve, which will increase productivity and also build-up the national moral by giving those disgruntled and disenfranchised youths hope and reason to stay.
Finally, we need to focus, the inclusion and participation of young people to enhance their capabilities and affords them the opportunity to develop their lives as well as their societies.
The Author Abdisalan Ahmed is lecturer and freelance writer based in Hargeisa Somaliland.
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