Amidst a large exodus of young Gambian migrants searching for greater pasture, The Gambia’s Minister of Trade, Baboucarr Ismaila Joof, has said that his ministry intends to create 150,000 jobs before the end of 2026 to lessen the higher number of unemployment and migration of young Gambians.
Minister Joof said this while addressing students at the University of The Gambia Debate Associations Inter tertiary Debate competition, which focused on enhancing young people’s capacity to combat trafficking in individuals and smuggling of migrants.
The Minister acknowledged the challenges the country is faced with regarding the issue of underemployment and unemployment. In addressing that, Joof said his ministry developed a policy to create one hundred and fifty thousand jobs.
“The issues of unemployment, underemployment, and potential labor force have been considered a serious development challenge in The Gambia. The Government recognizes the task ahead and the threats such challenges pose to peace and stability, economic growth, and development. To this end, my ministry has recently formulated a National Employment Policy and Action Plan (NEAP) 2022-2026 to create gainful and decent employment opportunities for the growing labor force to improve their living conditions and contribute to economic growth and national development. With this policy, we target to create 150,000 jobs by the end of the policy period in 2026,” he remarked.
According to him, the policy will increase employment entry chances in the labor market for people with disabilities and access to affordable costs.
He informed the gathering that the implementation of this policy had already begun.
Fatou Barry, representing the National Project Office of UNODC, said combating irregular migration and unemployment needs many hands on the desk to end them.
“The Gambia, with its unique geographical position, has become both a departure and transit country, making it susceptible to the activities of migrant smugglers and human traffickers. The surge in young people resorting to smuggling services for their migration efforts has profoundly impacted communities and national development. This is a conversation that is even more necessary today, looking at the number of boats that leave the shores of The Gambia and the young people and women whose lives perish at sea.
“The correlation between high youth unemployment, irregular migration, and re-migration rates towards Europe necessitates urgent and coordinated interventions,” she explained.
Amie Sohna is the president of the University of the University of The Gambia, and she said:
” Today, we gather here to discuss a pressing issue that demands our attention: the multi-stakeholder approach to combating migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons, with a specific focus on empowering youth.
In recent years, the global challenges posed by these illicit activities have grown exponentially, affecting the lives of countless individuals, especially vulnerable youth. We must come together as a united front, recognizing the power of collaboration and the vital role of youth in shaping the discourse surrounding this issue. By placing youth at the center of our discussions, we acknowledge their unique perspectives, innovative ideas, and unwavering determination to create a better future. They are not only the most affected by these crimes but also hold the key to sustainable solutions and long-lasting change. This multi-stakeholder approach aims to foster dialogue, exchange knowledge, and build partnerships among governments, civil society organizations, academia, and youth. By working hand in hand, we can develop comprehensive strategies that address the root causes, support survivors, and prevent the exploitation of vulnerable individuals.”