President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Monday (Jan 28) delivered the first Annual Addresses of her second term, but received sharp reactions when she suggested that her government has fulfilled campaign and inaugural promise of creating 20,000 jobs annually.
Critics said the President was unrealistic in making such announcement when she is personally aware that her administration had failed to create the promised 20,000 jobs during the first year of her second term in office.
“Reports submitted to me [from the Ministry of Labor] suggest that we have met our target commitment on job creation, but overwhelmingly in short-term positions,” the President stated to the annoyance of her audience at the Capitol and in radio land.
The country's Labor Chief said though the government hit beyond its target of 20,000, at least 50,000 Liberians were job hungry annually. “We should be even providing more than 20,000 jobs, and we all have to work together to make this becomes a reality,” the Minister noted.
The Minister explained that about 50,000 new job seekers were available every year, and the government and partners need to work hard to find something for these people to do if the issue of employment should not become politically volatile.
According the statistics from the Ministry, the government exceeded her target when 22,981 new jobs were created in the private sector while government's own funded projects created 23,700 short-term jobs.
Labor Minister: “23,700 short-term [lasting three to six months] jobs were provided through the Government of Liberia special projects, amounting to about 50.8% of all jobs created in 2012.”
Breaking down the figure, Minister Gayflor stated that 6,940 short-term jobs were created under the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), while 15,000 short-term jobs were created under the Youth Empowerment Services and Community Work Project (YES-CWP) carried out by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE).
An additional 1,760 short-term jobs were created under the CEP-II under the auspices of lace Gayflor noted, before giving statistics of new jobs provided by the private sector last year alone.
Of the 22,981 jobs recorded from the private sector, 9,378 (40%) came from major concession companies including ArcelorMittal (2,345), Firestone Liberia (1,400), Golden Veroluem (2456), China Union (654), Sime Darby (581), CICO (500), among others.
“Most of the jobs created in the private sector,” the Minister furthered, “were through the contribution of small and medium size businesses.”
The Minister explained that a large percent (40) of the jobs was created in the Agricultural sector followed by the wholesale and retail sector (25%) while most of those acquiring jobs in 2012 were male (74.9) basically residing in urban areas.
Minister Gayflor indicated that most of the jobs provided through government-sponsored projects were shorter and not sustainable and falls in the vulnerable employment category—jobs lasting for few days or months with no security or means to save in banks.
Minister Gayflor stressed the need for training as most of those seeking jobs were not trained in particular areas where there are available jobs and warned that “…as long as available manpower is not trained to work in the sector where there are sufficient job opening, for example the agricultural sector, the question of job will continue to be a volatile political issue.
In her Monday's address, President Sirleaf said: “If our objectives for jobs are to be fully achieved, we must move more rapidly on the renovation and expansion of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center and other technical and vocational training centers around the country. We must also resolve those issues that delay housing construction and investment operations which are the main sources of job creation.
Additionally, we must improve our job reporting system so that we can get it right.”
Minister Gayflor Thursday asserted that “Future policy measures must take into consideration the job creation requirements of the Liberia economy [because] this will help reduce the disequilibrium between the supply and demand for new jobs in the Liberian economy.”