As the job market continues to shrink, Edna Mthobwa, who has been searching for a job for five years now, has almost given up on employment and ventured into business to earn a living.
Mthobwa, who holds a bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Cultural Studies obtained from the University of Malawi, has been surviving on farming, which earns her about K50 000 in a month.
“It has not been an easy road for me. I have done whatever it takes to secure a job, but the market has failed me. I could not do otherwise, but find something to earn money.
“I do cultivate vegetables and tomatoes on my small piece of land which I sell just to earn a living,” she said, adding that though the money is not enough, quitting the business is not an option.
Mthobwa’s story is not different from Mike Jemitala, who now survives on piecework.
Jemitala, who graduated from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management (Land and Water), has over the past two years failed to secure a permanent job.
“I work as a part-time teacher in private schools just to make ends meet. The challenges are numerous, including delayed payment and underpayment but what choice do I have in the face of harsh economic realities,” he said.
The two are among many other Malawians facing the rage of the subdued economic environment the country has been experiencing in recent years which has ultimately resulted in the shrinking job market.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has since projected unemployment in Malawi and other low-income countries in Africa to rise this year, heightened by the continued subdued economic environment.
In its latest Monitor on the World of Work published last week, the ILO said economic vulnerabilities, which have been prevalent since last year, are expected to rise in 2023 and lead to greater indebtedness among workers and the deterioration of working conditions for many employees.
The report, an update on key labour market indicators and trends focusing on job trends, said in low-income countries such as Malawi unemployment rates are projected to remain more than one percentage point above last year.
The analysis, which indicates that global jobs gap is projected to stand at 453 million people, more than double the level of unemployment, says recovery going forward will be serious for developing nations such as Malawi which have high levels of inequality, more divergent working conditions and weaker social protection systems.
Employers Consultative Association of Malawi executive director George Khaki has since concurred with the report, saying the harsh economic environment makes the job market fragile.
He said: “The outlook by monetary authorities is that economic slowdown globally will continue this year among other things due to inflation.
“Thus, the job market will continue to underperform. Many of the jobs lost will be in the formal sector, thus, the informal sector will become large.”
Khaki observed that rising inflation, shortage of foreign exchange, and lack of reliable and adequate power/energy are some of the reasons industry is unable to create as many jobs as envisaged after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Institute of People Management in Malawi president Godwin Ng’oma is on record as having said unless the economic environment improves and the country establishes new industries to employ the people, securing decent jobs will remain a challenge.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Labour has also forecasted slow growth of about 0.6 percent in the creation of new jobs between this year and 2024.
Ministry of Labour figures forecasted that 217 560 jobs will be created by the end of the last financial year, a figure which according to the Ministry is a 35 percent jump from the 161 717 created in 2021.
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