Job creation to counter a 32.4 percent unemployment rate

DEAR EDITOR, a news bulletin broadcast on Radio New Zealand on May 14, 2018, quotes the Chief Executive of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce, Dennis Meone, has having said Solomon Islands needs to focus on creating jobs to engage its youth population.

Mr Meone gave details of Solomon Islands unemployment rate last year, of 32.4 percent and also gave details of national statistics which showed that 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30.

Mr Meone was quoted as having said:

“You know the basic question is can we, as a country, be able to provide jobs for these young growing population?

“The answer is not really.

“And that is why the policy conversation that we are having with government to look at opportunities. I think it is important that if government creates the conducive environment so that businesses can grow and hence create the jobs or provide the jobs.”

I have pondered the very questions raised by Dennis for more than 20 years and been concerned about the steady rise in youth unemployment and the lack of job opportunities facing so many young people and actually likened the situation to a potential ticking time bomb.

I still lack the solutions to the unemployment situation and truly hope the Solomon Islands government can create the conducive environment to enable businesses to grow and facilitate jobs that will accommodate the youth.

I venture to suggest that Dennis, and the SIG, might find some encouragement and possible answers by reading an excellent article by Aneel Karnani, an Associate Professor of Strategy at the Stephen M Ross School of Business at the US University of Michigan.

The article Reducing Poverty through Employment is available to view on line.

It is rather a lengthy piece, but I have quoted here the first few paragraphs which could prove an invitation to read more of his responses to the subject matter.

“Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and he will be able to feed himself for the rest of his life. This is an old cliché, and like all clichés it has an element of wisdom. But, it does not go far enough. A fisherman with a simple rod and a canoe will not go hungry, but he will still be poor. For him to rise above poverty, he needs steady employment at reasonable wages in a commercial fishing company. Now his daughter might move up the development ladder and go on to become an engineer.

“Widespread poverty is an urgent challenge for the world. The starting point for addressing this challenge is the simple and obvious observation that the primary problem of the poor is that they have a low income. As the above parable indicates, the best way to alleviate poverty is to increase the income of the poor by providing productive employment. It is necessary to view the poor as producers and emphasize buying from them.

“Many of the current approaches to poverty alleviation miss this simple point. Advocates of foreign aid believe that poor countries are caught in a “poverty trap” and need major injections of aid to trigger economic development.

“Foreign aid is accused of emphasizing big objectives, big projects, top-down planning, and a one-size-fits-all approach rather than, as Easterly advocates, bottom-up solutions tailored to the local context.

“Another criticism is that very little aid actually goes to stimulate enterprise development, even though private enterprise is well established as the best path out of poverty.

“Foreign aid is also accused of creating continuing dependency and fostering corruption.”


Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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