Youth unemployment is a global issue. Samoa is not immune from it.
For Samoa alone, as of 2012, the rate of unemployed youths between the ages of 18 and 35 is 16.4 percent and it is increasing by 8.4 percent annually.
The unemployed male population makes up 14 percent of youths in Samoa and 20.2 percent are unemployed females.
These statistics were revealed by Assistant C.E.O. of the Ministry of Women and Social Development, Nanai Sovala Agaiava. He was presenting during the “Empowering the Family Unit to Stop Violence” workshop at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.
To help address this issue, the Ministry is focusing on three key strategies: Strengthening entrepreneurship, supporting pathways into employment and promoting poverty alleviation mechanisms.
Through economic empowerment, Nanai said the Ministry hoped to: “Promote an enabling environment/platform to support strengthened entrepreneurship, and employment opportunities in communities.
“Capacity building for women, youth, street vendors, and P.W.D. to establish and maintain micro/small businesses, and to respond to employment demand.
“Support employment and entrepreneurship for women, youth and P.W.D. through improving access to resources and services.”
Nanai also spoke about child vendors who seem to flood the streets of Samoa day and night.
He said 2013 data revealed that there were 106 street vendors in Samoa. He said a 2014 survey carried out by the International Labour Organisation (I.L.O.) on more than 100 Samoan children showed that children were selling or scavenging the streets sometimes from early morning until midnight.
“Child vendors as young as six years old are selling goods on the streets of Samoa sometimes from the early hours of the morning until late at night.
“Samoa's Compulsory Education Act regulates the employment of school aged children and prohibits them from engaging in street trading or any other kind of work during school hours.
“Yet that does not solve the problem because these children are still seen on the streets during school hours.”
He highlighted a pilot assessment carried out on 10 families showed why families preferred their children selling goods on streets.
“One reason is to earn income for family survival because the parents are no longer employed.
“Another reason is for income in order to send their siblings to schools.
Nanai said six families were part of a business training to help them establish small businesses and financially support their families.
“Five are still trying to develop a business but one family has achieved what the Ministry was hoping, that is to have a business to help them.”
Justice Vui Clarence Nelson said: “In the next five years, there will be an increase in street crimes and street gangs and child vendors will be a critical problem.”
He said there was a need to address the child street vendors issue before it was too late.