The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has called for a macroeconomic framework that was employment friendly as a starting point in mass employment creation in Africa.
Ngige made this known at opening ceremony of the 6th African Social Partners’ Summit organised by the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Theme of the summit was: “Toward the Socio-Economic Transformation of Africa Through Job Creation: the Role of the Social Partners.”
Ngige said: “With very high unemployment rate in the continent, there has never been a greater need to place employment at the centre of economic and social policies.
“One reason why employment challenges looms as large as it does today is that employment has often been viewed as a derivative of other policies, rather than as a central concern of all economic and social policies.
“What is needed is for the social partners at this summit to push for a macroeconomic framework that is explicitly pro-employment in their respective countries.
“This will enhance the labour absorption capacity of African economies.”
The minister said that unemployment, underemployment, and poverty were critical challenges that required the concerted efforts of all stakeholders to address successfully.
According to him, Nigerian Government is currently working assiduously with African leaders to address unemployment challenges through well targeted interventions.
“The Nigerian Government is conscious of the fact that most of the unemployed are those without functional skills.
“Our strategy, therefore, is to equip the unemployed youths with market-driven skills which facilitates access to self or paid employment.
“In that regard, we have designed the N-Power Programme to drastically reduce youths unemployment.
“The focus is to provide our young unemployed job seekers with the cutting edge skills to venture into self or paid employment,” Ngige said.
Also, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, said that jobs generation was a reward for economic growth.
According to him, the economy can only grow with increase in purchasing power.
“The wages of workers underline the purchasing power in any clime; it is a major driver for productivity and growth.
“We appreciate our social partners in Nigeria for facilitating a new minimum wage of N30,000 for Nigerian workers.
“We urge social partners all over the continent to take seriously the issue of wage justice,” he said.
In her remarks, Ms Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), said that constructive social dialogue played a huge role in the implementation of Africa transformation agenda.
Samuel-Olonjuwon, also the Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa, said that such agenda would require collaboration among the governments, employers and workers.
“It requires the contribution of proactive, effective, representative employers and workers organisations.
“It requires a spirit of constructive collaboration, where different interests are able to meet for a common good and goal.
“As social partners, you have a key role to play in demanding, but also inspiring and facilitating the kinds of reforms that will meet the decent jobs challenge in Africa,” she said.
The Director-General, NECA, Mr Timothy Olawale, said that the task of jobs creation was collaborative between the private and public sector.
“Though, we know, the private sector is the real sector of the economy, the government has a role which is very critical.
“For the private sector to create employment, it must be able to work in an enabling environment for it to do its business and for businesses to thrive and survive and to sustain those jobs they have created.
“The starting point is for government to create an enabling environment by ensuring that businesses thrive in the economy, competitive and sustainable.
“This is done through the policy direction of government,” Olawale said.
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