Youth unemployment has become an increasingly pressing issue in many countries around the world, and Mauritius is no exception. Despite the government’s efforts to create job opportunities and support economic growth, the number of unemployed youth is still following an increasing trend during the recent few years. In this article, we will explore the factors contributing to the rising youth unemployment rate in Mauritius and will examine the government’s initiatives to address the issue.
Data extracted from Labour force, Employment and Unemployment Year 2021 report- Statistic Mauritius
From a rate of around at 22.2% in 2011, youth unemployment increased with time, reaching a high of 26.3% in 2015. Estimated at 25.3% in 2014, the National Economic and Social Council report shows there were nearly 20,000 youth who were unemployed during that year. Assisting young people, the Ministry of Finance also introduced two programmes known as The Services to Mauritius Programme and The Youth Employment Programme to solve the issue. In the budget 2016/2017, the National Skills Development Programme (NSDP) was also announced by the Government to address Mauritius youth unemployment where the rate went down to 22.8% in 2019 but gradually increased to 27.7% in 2021.
Why is it on the rise?
A variety of reasons could be contributing to the increased young unemployment rate. The Covid crisis, which occurred in 2020 and 2021, is the first one.
The report for the second quarter of 2021 by Statistics Mauritius, shows that the rate of youth unemployment in the second quarter of 2021 was 32.4%, meaning that it went up by 8.1% from the second quarter of 2020. This shows that the unemployment rate among the youngest working population has been growing for more than two quarters running. Therefore, the key factor is the Covid crisis, which made the labour market dysfunctional and restricted the creation of new jobs for young people.
Besides, it seems that young people are not given the chance to obtain work experience, which makes it harder for them to find employment. Statistics Mauritius’ report shows the country’s total labour force participation rate fell in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, indicating how, due to discouragement, some young people have given up looking for work.
One further explanation is that the school system does not encourage students to recognize their potential or prepare them for life in the real world. In this situation, career education and counselling are imperative and must be accompanied by pertinent career information to assist students in making the best decisions possible with regard to the courses they take in school, their university studies, or their occupational trainings.
Also, the problem is that each student possesses talent in their own unique way, but the school system frequently ignores this and places greater emphasis on academic achievement.
Last but not least, inadequate career counselling is a factor closely contributing to the skills of recent graduates not matching market gaps. They have a harder time getting jobs because some young people expect to find employment in their exact field of study. However, graduates frequently lack the skills that employers desire, which makes it more difficult to place them in a particular organization.
Program and Government initiatives in Mauritius aimed at addressing Youth Unemployment
There are several program and government initiatives in Mauritius aimed at addressing youth unemployment. Some of these programs are:
The government has invested in myriad programmes as solutions to youth unemployment like – The Youth Employment Program(YEP) which was launched in 2013 to enable young unemployed Mauritians (aged between 16 to 24 years) to initially obtain training or work placements for a year. According to the YEP Secretariat, the number of jobseekers placed in companies as at 28 February 2022 is 24,562 where 68 jobseekers were placed in the public and private sectors, 50 jobseekers were placed in the private sector out of which 32% in “Professional, scientific and technical activities” sector and 14% in “Information and Communications” sector.
The Dual Training Programme (DTP) – The DTP allows unemployed Mauritius citizens to enroll in a diploma or degree program at a higher institution that is accredited by the Tertiary Education Commission or the Mauritius Qualifications. According to the Mauritius Export Association, 38 students have been graduated in October 2018 and all of them have already been offered employment by their respective sponsoring companies.
The National Skills Development Program (NSDP)- It is an initiative of the government of Mauritius aimed at addressing skills gaps and improving the employability of the workforce. According to NSDP statistics, more than 129 enterprises have engaged in this program. Figure 10 gives a quick overview of the status of the programs offered under the NSDP as from of October 2018, 150 projects have been authorized for the training of 6522 unemployed youth. There are approximately 4821 trainees that have begun their course in that year.
Despite the government’s efforts to implement several programs to tackle youth unemployment in Mauritius, the problem is still on the rise. The youth unemployment rate has still rose from the year 2013 to 2021 from 23.2 to 27.7 according to the 2021 report. This highlights the need for a re-evaluation of the existing policies and strategies in place, and for more targeted and innovative measures to be implemented to address the underlying causes of this issue.
Unemployment Statistics- Second Quarter 2021
By: Teeshaven Nynan