‘Youth can be economically productive’

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—Government has noted that with the right investments and continued progress through the demographic transition in time large youth populations can become economically productive and drive economic gains.

Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport, Chinga Miyutu, says Zambia currently has the largest population of young people in its history, creating a critical opportunity for national development.

He said this is a pure case of a youth bulge and as the country continues to experience rapid population growth which, if not well managed, will end up with rampant unemployment and large pools of dissatisfied youth who are more susceptible to recruitment in crime and prostitution.

Mr Miyutu was speaking at the official opening of the regional consultative forum for Southern and Western Provinces on the review of the national youth policy held at Fair Mount Hotel in Livingstone.

“We believe that the participation of stakeholders will facilitate the creation of a policy that will have strategies that aim at creating enabling environment for the youth to realize their potential and also help to foster support and understanding of the policy objectives which are necessary for the implementation,” he said.

He cited examples of rapidly growing economies of East Asia and Europe as having undergone small youth bulges that contributed to their countries’ strong economic outputs.

Mr Miyutu stated that when youth are educated and jobs are created for them they can benefit and in turn develop the country.

He added that it is for this reason that the Patriotic Front (PF) government is in a hurry to devise strategies to address issues of the youth bulge and the resultant poverty levels.

Mr Miyutu said government, with its stakeholders, remains determined to turn the youth bulge into an economic force behind the socio economic development of the country.

Youth representative, Sibu Malambo, said the youths expect a new policy which will clearly spell out the priorities for the youth such as participation, employment, entrepreneurship, education and training among other issues.

Malambo said one of the thorny issues in youth development in Zambia has been the lack of clear definition of the youth work practice and youth sector.

He said the youth, therefore, expect that the policy will clearly define youth practice and youth sector hoping that this will also help improve co-ordination among stakeholders in delivery of the new policy and contribute to the professionalisation of youth work in Zambia.

He added that the new policy should also promote code of ethic and conduct to protect young people from incompetent and unethical conduct of youth workers.

“We also note that Zambia still has a critical shortage of trained cadres of youth workers to assist government realize its youth empowerment and youth development goals,” he said.

He added that the new policy should place priority on education and training of youth by utilizing the underutilised institutions such as King George National Youth College.