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  2012 SWTS »

1. Introduction and main findings
1.1 Overview

Liberia is a young country. One-third of the population is between the ages of 15 and 35. Unfortunately, it is also a low-income country; with poverty continuing to constrain the number of young people who can stay in education, far too many young Liberians still face a future of struggling against a precarious existence, earning money through occasional informal employment and being left behind as the country and its growing middle class harvest the benefits of economic development.

Youth unemployment and underemployment represent a major cost to Liberian society in economic, political and societal terms. One in every three young persons in the labour force is unemployed in the country. Half of young Liberians are working, but the quality of employment is often low, which does not allow the youth (and the country) to make the most of their economic potential. The high share of labour underutilization means a loss of investment in education and training, a reduced potential tax base, higher costs for social assistance and a bottleneck in fuelling the economic transformation of the country. Furthermore, high levels of unemployment and underemployment among young people can be a source of social instability. 

To characterize the specific youth employment challenges and to support policy- makers in designing adequate instruments to support the transition of young people into employment, the ILO has developed its school-to-work transition survey (SWTS), a household survey of young people aged 15–29 years (15–35 in the case of Liberia). A second survey, the labour demand enterprise survey (LDES), aims to balance the supply side picture with information from enterprises on their demand for labour and assessments of young applicants. The SWTS and LDES, implemented in 2012 with a second round planned for 2014, can serve as principal tools for monitoring the impact of policies and programmes outlined in the National Employment Policy and other national instruments. The indicators generated from the survey and analysed in this report aim to present a much more detailed picture of youth in the labour market than usually exists through standard surveys, including the labour force survey. 

Unemployment among youth is a major concern in Liberia, but it is also important to consider the quality of work made available to the young population. Does the work provide the wages and security necessary to empower young Liberians to move towards self-sufficiency in their pending adulthood? The emphasis on quality of employment in this report should help to answer this question. The report also draws attention to the path and length that young people’s transition from school to work takes and draws conclusions on characteristics or experiences that make for a smoother transition.

Document to download
2012 SWTS Final Report Oct 23, 2013.pdf - 2191kb
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