A FEW politicians are infamous for manipulating unemployment figures to criticise opponents, win votes or remain in power.
Some politicians boast of providing jobs… but they do not reveal the jobs they obtain for their family, friends and financiers of their political party. Jobs should be given on the basis of merit, qualifications and experience.
Do politicians have a real desire to solve unemployment? Citizens who are employed would have no need for the rhetoric and empty promises of politicians. Some politicians in power, and in the opposition, use existing socio-economic problems to their advantage. They want to create a following of dependent voters… not educated voters or empowered voters. Transparency and accountability are needed in the private and public spheres. This should be ingrained in the hearts and minds of all politicians, managers and employees.
Effective, not elaborate, checks and balances are crucial to ensure programmes are monitored to reduce and eventually eliminate unemployment. It is a necessity that a leader must carefully choose persons who will effectively harness human resources to maximise a country’s potential. If not, such a leader will undoubtedly feel the wrath of the unemployed masses.
A political leader from the South, with relatively high unemployment, cannot have the extravagant tastes of a leader from a developed country. A developing economy with a debt burden should avoid hosting an expensive event such as a beauty pageant or erection of a costly monument. These wastages must be discouraged since the country achieves only brief popularity, limited financial returns and little or no benefit to the less fortunate citizens.
It is a logical, sane and rational decision to invest the taxpayers’ money in the provision of efficient social services, creating job opportunities, funding institutions for the physically and mentally challenged, homes for elderly persons and assisting the health sector.
Political leaders need regular and earnest dialogue on the causal factors and rates of unemployment. Leaders must be sympathetic to the poor, aware that the wealth of a nation is temporarily entrusted in their care and accountable to those being governed.
Every country suffers from unemployment and thus, this social problem needs to be seriously and immediately addressed. They must realise there are no boundaries to unemployment as it could affect anyone. Unemployed persons do not belong to a particular ethnicity, class, religion, country or gender.
Unemployment seems inescapable. Around the globe, some are temporarily unemployed, underemployed or permanently retrenched. What are the underlying reasons? Is the
world becoming too overcrowded? Has industrialisation and technology increased the problem? Are policies and legislation ineffective? Is there a need for a new economic ideology to emerge? In 2009, a global financial crisis resulted in millions of persons being unemployed. In 2020, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to an increase in layoffs and retrenchment. These are recent examples of the need to seriously tackle the root causes of unemployment.
The annual observances of World Unemployment Day explores the factors contributing to unemployment and suggests solutions. Some of the solutions and topics being discussed and debated:
1. More cooperation between the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs);
2. Regular government reports and updates on the levels of poverty and unemployment in each country;
3. Frequent media reports highlighting the plight of the unemployed, homeless and street children;
4. More rational allocation and utilisation of government expenditure for social welfare programmes;
5. Efficient and monitored halfway houses, drop-in-centres and support systems.
6. More collaboration among the religious bodies, public and private sectors.
7. Public support of ventures and projects of organisations involved in assisting the
poverty-stricken and homeless.
8. Reducing or stopping the misuse of funds, there is a need for international monitoring of the governments in their use of funds/loans and implementation of policies. Awarding of jobs based on merit and need.
Private companies, individuals, non-governmental organisations and governments have been invited to discuss the effectiveness and implement as much of the above recommendations as possible. It is unfortunate that high levels of unemployment contribute to a country’s political and economic instability.
How has this Day been observed? Persons and organisations have used peaceful marches, seminars, conferences and petitioning relevant authorities or politicians. Schools have organized debating, poster and essay writing competitions. In an age of advanced technology, globalisation and increasing population, there is an urgent need to eliminate the high unemployment levels.
Dr Jereome Teelucksingh is a recipient of the Humming Bird (Gold) Medal for Education and Volunteerism. He is attached to the Department of History at the University of the West Indies at St Augustine. He has published books, chapters and journal articles on the Caribbean diaspora, masculinity, culture, politics, ethnicity and religion. Also, he has produced a documentary – Brown Lives Matter and presented papers at academic conferences.
Click to read other articles by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh below: