Youth Unemployment in Mauritius

Youth unemployment is becoming an issue in many parts of the world. In some countries, youths are unemployed because they lack proper education, training and skills, while in other countries, their youths are unemployed because there are not enough jobs for graduates in the country. On 27th December 2011, the report on “Labour Force, employment and unemployment – Third Quarter 2011” has been made public by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the first observation we can make in it is that the number of unemployed youth in Mauritius has increased.

Some figures from the report
This report is an indicator of the labour force, employment and unemployment in Mauritius from July to September 2011. In Mauritius, the working age is 16 years and over, and 984,800 persons fall under this category. Out of this, 583,700 (59.3%) are in the labour force, while 401,100 (40.7%) are not in the labour force. From those who are in the labour force, 537,800 (92.1%) are employed and 45,900 (7.9%) are unemployed.
Figure from the Report 
According to the report, the main characteristics of the unemployed as at third quarter 2011 were as follows:
  • The 45,900 unemployed comprised 19,500 males (42%) and 26,400 females (58%).
  • Around 17,600 (38%) of them were aged below 25 years (3 out of 5).
  • About 52% (23,800) of the unemployed were single. Among males, the majority (75%) was single while among females, the majority (65%) was ever married.
  • Some 8,400 or 18% had not reached the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) level or equivalent and a further 18,400 (40%) did not have the Cambridge School Certificate (SC) or equivalent.
  • Around 35,500 (77%) had been looking for work for up to one year and the remaining 10,400 (23%) for more than one year.
  • About 30,500 (66%) had working experience and 15,400 (34%) were looking for a job for the first time.
  • Around 19,000 (41%) were registered at the Employment Service.
  • There were 8,600 (19%) young persons aged 16 to 24 years, not yet married and looking for a first job. Some 3,700 (43%) of them had not passed SC.
  • Ever married (including widowed, divorced or separated) unemployed persons aged 25 to 44 years and having worked before numbered 11,800. Among them, about 9,100 (77%) had not passed SC.
  • 4,800 or 10% of the unemployed were heads of households.
  • 6,700 (15%) lived in households with no employed persons.
Some Government initiatives to fight youth unemployment
National budget 2012
In the National Budget 2012, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Xavier Luc Duval recognised that youth unemployment is a concern in the country and announced that with the collaboration of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC), National Empowerment Foundation (NEF) and the Mauritius Institute of Training and Development (MITD), training programs would be designed and provided to the youths for them to have the required competencies to secure a job in the country. Also, the Minister also announced that a sponsored pre-job training initiative would be included in these training programs. Furthermore, it was mentioned that Mauritian youths should consider jobs in the tourism sector, medical sector and other innovative sectors.

The Government of Mauritius has also been encouraging its youth to get into entrepreneurship for several years through different policies. From an agricultural perspective, it can be said that there are so many opportunities in this sector that are not being exploited by youths. It is a fact that traditional farming is not attractive to youths, but it can become attractive if practised in a different way; Agro-processing, use of new techniques and machineries, application of ICTs etc.

It is true that unemployment in general is a sensitive issue and there is no standard or perfect way to tackle it. However, we should always focus on innovation/entrepreneurship and youths should be geared towards it. 

About Nawsheen Hosenally

Nawsheen Hosenally, a national of the Republic of Mauritius, has over 6 years of experience in the agricultural sector, specifically focusing on the engagement of youth in agriculture through the use of ICTs. Currently, Nawsheen is the co-Founder of Agribusiness TV, a web TV that features success stories of young agricultural entrepreneurs in Africa. Nawsheen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Extension from the University of Mauritius, and a Master’s degree in Management and Information Systems from the University of Manchester.

10 comments on “Youth Unemployment in Mauritius

  1. It is a very disconcerting fact when you consider the efforts and sacrifices put behind by University graduates to obtain their degree and finally end up being without a job for days and months. It is also an alarming situation in Mauritius when you consider the number of graduates in Agriculture and related fields who end up changing career fields or ending up in jobs where they are not directly concerned.

    It is true that there might be opportunities in entrepreneurship in the field of agro-industry for Mauritius, but what happens to the rest?

    When fresh graduates go about looking for jobs, they often meet with the disconcerting statement that they need previous experience in order to be employed. Here we ask ourselves the question: is there something lacking in the formations youth receive from the University of Mauritius so that they meet with this statement again and again?

    The challenges youth meet with once in a job is another story; all that they have learnt at tertiary level might not be enough to help them evolve rapidly in a working environment.

    In the end we have to ask ourselves if we do have equal opportunities in this country or this is just a statement put about by our government to reassure us before we find ourselves on the actual job market.

    I personally believe that Agriculture is the very base of any country. We are what we eat, and if we can’t produce, we are victims of Food Insecurity in some sense. It is sad when you see the minimal efforts or encouragement being given to youth to study agriculture, to pick a hoe and or a watering can so they can know how to grow a plant.
    And it is sad that everyone (government, citizens, students, youth) would prefer to engage in fields like IT, Management or Tourism while we neglect important aspects such as our Natural Resources, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Marine Environment, etc which form the very basis of our existence.

    It becomes very hard then for the small proportion of youth who want to differentiate themselves from the crowd by studying Agriculture for example, with the aspiration of creating an impact of a more sustainable system of growing crops or rearing livestock.

    There is an immediate need for a platform to be set up to recognize these current difficulties and come forward with help for all those graduates who do have the talent and drive to make change but who simply don’t know how or from where to begin. For every youth of today is the future of tomorrow.

  2. Thanks for your statement Tenusha. Having been myself an agriculture student, I have also faced some of these difficulties. It is a pity that agriculture students are not encouraged in any way by anyone.

    From my point of view, the focus for a career is not on agriculture because the primary aim of the country is economic security and food security comes after it. Our past generations have worked in fields and do not want the future generations to go though the same difficulties.

    But in the end I believe if we don’t like something, we need to change it in our own way. If youths are willing, such a platform can be created to support those who already have an interest in agriculture and other related fields.

    1. Perhaps the university should also review their strategy with regards to the number of students embarking onto FOA courses. I know someone who did a course related to marine life and finally that person was not able to get employed or an internship in Mauritius. I have the impression that the Albion thing being the only institution that can get these graduates employed and there are limited seats.

      So why are there so many graduates for a limited number of job employment opportunities?

  3. This is a very “old” issue going on for years. According to what I know, the university (FOA) does meet stakeholders before deciding which course to offer. But the problem is that the need is here in the market, but while recruiting, there are lots of “stuffs” that I don’t want to mention that happens. I believe that the problem is at a higher level and it will take time to change or won’t even change. What youths should do is to start doing things differently. Create our own ways and create opportunities rather than searching for opportunities. Because if we keep on waiting, we’ll wait forever..

    1. Hi Nawsheen, I just came across your blog while searching for SMEDA and I couldn’t help not reading the above comments…..If I may add to what’s already been said above, I believe its about time our youth put their feet down and start voicing out their opinions as to the disproportionality in between courses being offered & job opportunities in Mauritius.

      Of course, today’s boom in Mauritius is the tertiary education and no need to say that the above issue is the result of the multitude of courses available in our ever expanding universities/tertiary institutions…..which in turn are more bothered in making money rather than gearing our youth towards eventual career opportunities…..but seriously, who among all these institutions really care about potential job opportunities after graduation??


    2. Hi Khalil,

      I agree that time has come for us to voice out our opinions on what is happening to graduates regarding employment in Mauritius. But the question is who will do it and how to do it? Personally, I am against “fer ban la marche ou la greve” because these do not solve anything. From my point of view, we should be having a platform like a National Youth Seminar/Forum for example, which can connect us to policy makers and youths are able to discuss on subjects that impact them.

      Regarding your question about whether institutions care about job opportunities after graduation, I believe we all know the answer! 🙂

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