The Ministry of Finance should set aside funds in the upcoming 2020 national budget for stronger job creation mechanisms, says Zambia Union of Financial Institutions and Allied Workers(ZUFIAW) president Ackim Mweemba.

And Mweemba has cautioned that failure to respond to high youth unemployment levels may lead to political instability.

In a statement, Mweemba stated that stronger mechanisms to reduce youth unemployment were vital as the current high levels of unemployment remained ticking time bomb.

“ZUFIAW appeals to the Minister of Finance to set aside funds in the 2020 national budget for stronger job creation mechanisms to reduce youth unemployment, which by its nature, is a ticking time bomb. The empowerment of youths through job creation has been a topical issue from time immemorial. Vigorous pronouncements in this space have been made and yet without creating fertile grounds for the fulfillment of this mandate,” Mweemba observed.

He stressed that government needed to respond to the high levels of youth unemployment.

“Overtime, inertia in this area has aggravated the plight of a youth with unemployment levels now standing above 40 per cent. There is no better time than now, that government needs to respond to the reality of funding job creation strategies that pay particular attention to sectors that are in tune with youth aspirations, among them, the agricultural sector. For some time now, ZUFIAW has been calling for the increase of funding to the agriculture sector to about 10 per cent of the national budget so as to meet the goals of Africa’s Agenda 2025,” he added.

And Mweemba cautioned that failure to respond to high youth unemployment levels may lead to political instability.

“A healthy and dynamic agriculture sector is an important foundation of rural development, generating strong linkages to other economic sectors. We would like to remind government that lack of youth employment opportunities has the potential to undermine social cohesion and political stability of the country if left unchecked. We call upon those that wield political power to exercise leadership and avert this imminent problem,” advised Mweemba.

“The impressive pool of youths Zambia boasts of, full of talent and creativity has the potential to spur the economy and create jobs for their peers if serious investment plans are put in place as opposed to leaving them to join the brigade of unemployed youths after their tertiary education.”

In this year’s budget, government allocated a total of K169,993,697 towards the Skills Development Fund (SDF), down from K176,698,000 allocated in the 2018 budget.

The Fund is one of the key mechanisms government has in place to help stimulate skills development and training in tertiary institutions as well as some selected private sector companies to boost entrepreneurship and job creation.