Youth unemployment and underemployment represent a major cost to Liberia in economic, political and social terms. The lack of capacity to fill available job opportunities also poses serious challenge to youth employment in the country.
According to recent Labor studies, one in every three youths is unemployed in the country. Even for those that are employed, the quality of employment is often so low to allow them make the most of their economic potentials. Such high share of labor underutilization means a loss of investment in education and training, a reduced potential tax base, high costs for social assistance and bottleneck in fuelling the economic transformation of the country. Furthermore, high levels of unemployment and underemployment among young people can be a source of social instability.
This challenge is, however, not been left alone to undermine the progress made under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf from 2006 to date. Hence, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which is tasked with the responsibility of putting in place the requisite policies and programs that will purposefully give young people the skills needed for the job market, is exerting every effort to mitigate the scourge.
To certify this ambition, Youth and Sport Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe has intimated that 88,000 young people are expected to benefit from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs in the next two years of the implementation through formal and informal training.
Minister Nagbe says he sees the youth of Liberia as the greatest potential Liberia has for its development, further indicating that the country cannot develop if the young people are not trained and provided the needed capacities to participate in nation building.
The Youth and Sports Minister averred that the Government of Liberia continues to engage the youth with skills training programs because it believes in them as an opportunity to move the nation in the right direction.
“We (government) have been training the young people, but in the wrong manner,” Nagbe said, noting that government had failed to align training with the available jobs.
“So when we were developing the training modules for such as TVET and KAVTC, field of studies that have high employment potentials were considered paramount,” he said.
Of course, leading the trust in this direction is the Monrovia Vocational Training Centre (MVTC) which recently graduated 750 young men and women in various disciplines including Mechanics, Electronics and Building Construction. “TVET is the way forward for development. Many concessions operating in the country still import manpower mainly because we lack the necessary skills to perform the jobs that demand industrial skill,” say MVTC Assistant Director for Administration Dave Paye Doe.
Besides the MVTC, program, eight other TVET programs are currently supervised by the Ministry of Education and managed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, with the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) leading the pack.
“The formulation and launch of a national TVET policy in 2015 underscored government’s commitment and the seriousness our development partners attach to bridging the widening unemployment gap and aligning technical and vocational skills training with formal education, thereby producing a competent, qualified workforce for the nation,” Minister Nagbe noted.