By Shire Salaad
Friday June 3, 2016
In April of this year,
about 500 immigrant lives were lost in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the United Nations.
More than half of those who died were young Somalis trying to reach Europe as
Reuters reported. Similarly, in 2013, a boat carrying more than 500 Somalis and
Eritreans capsized off the cost of Lampedusa in Italy drowning more than
200 passengers. All were looking for better lives and jobs. Majority of
these youths were immigrating because of lack of employment in Somalia.
Seventy percent of Somalis living in Somalia 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 Somali youth to risk their
lives in the high seas in search for better lives and employment.
The question is what can be done to create jobs to lower
unemployment in Somalia in order to slow the number of Somalia’s youth dying in
search of work?
The biggest employers in Somalia today are the governmental
institutions funded by international donors. 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 Somalia. To tackle this
widespread nepotism the system of hiring has to become merit based one.
To facilitate this shift, the Somalia government (including
its regional governments) should establish a ministry or high-level independent
governmental entity, which shall 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.
To ease this extreme unemployment burden in an industrial
level, the government should attract light and labor intensive manufacturing companies
around the world to increase the number of low skill oriented jobs in the
country. The government should provide incentives such as accelerated paper
work, land lease, loans, and partnerships to attract these companies.
Furthermore, to create creative and skilled workforce, the
national and the regional governments, nongovernmental organizations and
academic institutions should focus skill transfer and financial and business
literacy, and build startup incubators near educational centers. These measures
will enable the young to gain skills and knowledge of financial and business
literacy, which will enable young skilled entrepreneurs to start their own
businesses generating employment right away.
Surprisingly, Somalia has no retirement age (it use to) so constituting
one will help the youth; for example, asking the sixty years olds to retire. This
will increase the number of younger people employed, but also since the average
lifespan of a Somali living in Somalia is estimated to be 55-years,
asking someone to retire at the age of sixty makes some sense. This also does
not mean the sixty-year-olds are useless: they can take consulting and
mentoring roles in the government or in the private sector as part-time
advisers or volunteers.
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 Somali students. This entails
in the future more skilled and highly educated workers coming back to Somalia
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.
These measures are short-term solutions for prevalent
unemployment in Somalia to slow the large influx of Somalia’s youth risking
their lives in the seas. In order Somalia 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 Somali youth. #
Shire Salaad is
the interim-director of Jubbaland Institute for Economic Development. A nonprofit
organization in Jubbaland region, Somalia: [email protected] /