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Monday, 7 November 2011

How should Government go about reducing unemployment?

The biggest challenge facing the current government is reducing unemployment. The budget this week will inevitably begin to address it.

This problem is not unique to Zambia, though it is quite severe in our case. Only 2% of the the Zambian workforce force is in the formal sector (that is to say gainfully employed and paying tax).

As part of the readers weekly column, we are asking:

How should government go about tackling unemployment?

What policies should they implement to decisively and expediently deal with this issue?

Those on Facebook can leave there comments here.


  1. Labor is an essential component of production and productivity is key to improving economic performance of any nation. Zambia need to give tax incentive's to new companies that hire workers on permanent basis. One factor contributing to high unemployment is the casualisation of labor. There is need to promote micro credit lending to help establish businesses that that would create jobs. Public-private partnerships would also help stimulate economic growth through skils training, education and empower local companies to hire and use local manpower. Limit the number of experts who from outside Zambia through the career placements through the University of Zambia and other higher learning institutions.

    Kunda KM

  2. Zambia is already actively engaged in vocation training but the results from such type of training have been slagish and need to create a monitoring and empowerment watchdog for many graduates of vocational colleges.

  3. Kunda KM,

    I could not agree with you more on all points. The current TEVET system has been mired in inefficiency and poor-coordination for far too long! Students and staff must be able to understand how their own programme fits into the larger industries to which their skillsets are tailored, as well as the overall economic framework. While there are doubtless a great many structures which could manage to achieve all of this disparate goals in a more ideal fashion, alas the nation's students and teachers are stuck with the inheritance of TEVET as it is and must adapt from there.

    I should not be too hard on the public servants at TEVET, as they have been tasked with a very complex problem. Not only must they insure that training facilities and graduates meet basic minimum standards across a wide range of industries and special skills, they must also establish equivalence of local measures with training received in a number of other countries (see chart here). If I may, I would like to draw on the example I laid out on in my piece on Vertically Linked Education Budget Reform, in order to speculate as to how to enable the SME credit portion of the goals you laid out.

    If I were looking to find the person best suited to get a grant or loan for a school to train forestry workers, I would start with a broad-based apprenticeship programme with foresters already in the field. Any which volunteered would get a hefty salary bonus to take a student along with them on their daily job (if only to observe from a safe distance in cases where certification is vital for a given portion of the task). The students would be tested at regular intervals, say every 2 weeks for 2 months, and whichever students show the greatest sustained improvement would indicate the pool of probably best teachers. That smaller group, say 10% of the original volunteers, would then be granted an even larger salary bonus to train the students in groups of ten over the next two months. The top performers from that stage would then indicate those best suited to handle class sizes which can be economically viable, and those would qualify for loans and TEVET institutional support to establish new training institutions.


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