The Cameroonian labour market is today saturated with qualified youth who are churned out annually from the universities and professional training institutions in the country. With youth constituting the bulk of the country’s population (about 60 per cent according to World Fact book) securing a job in Cameroon is as hard as passing a Camel through on a needle’s hole. With a predominantly primary economy, the Public Service remains the major employer in Cameroon. The Statistical Year Book of the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) published in 2016 indicates that the public administration has been incessant in creating decent jobs. The workforce according to the document has been increasing since 2011 with the special recruitment of 25,000 graduates into the Public Service. The workforce, as per the NIS document has grown from 249,899 in 2012 to 264,535 in 2013. The number must have surged further given the recurrent direct recruitment of youths into the public service over the years.
Despite these efforts, the rate of unemployment in 2016 according to Trading Economics statistics was 4.51 per cent, an illustration that many more qualified Cameroonian youth are unemployed. There is no gainsaying that the public service alone cannot absorb everybody in a country with over 23 million inhabitants, 60 per cent of which is made up youths.
The Minister of Employment and Vocational Training, Zacherie Perevet in January 2017, revealed in a press conference that some 400,390 jobs were created recording 18 per cent increase from the previous year. Most of these jobs were in the vocational training and informal sector. With the difficulty in getting white collar jobs in the public service, private and public corporations, more and more youths are now carving out their niche and creating their own employment. The advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has also facilitated job creation with many more youth now diverting to digital economy where they are several job openings. The 2020 Digital Cameroon Strategic Plan drawn-up by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications envisages the creation of direct jobs in the domain of digital economy from 10,000 in 2016 to 50,000 in 2020. This represents just a one of the sectors were youth are daring into entrepreneurship. Other sectors include agriculture, fashion and design, restauration, construction, media, beauty and aesthetics amongst others. The number of youth venturing into self-employment with the creation of varied start-ups and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises is on the rise. This can be justified with the professionalization of higher education system following the introduction of BMP (Bachelor, Masters, and PhD) and the proliferation of many vocational professional schools that trains job creators rather than job seekers. The government through many of its programmes (Three-year Special Youth Plan, PIAASI, PAJER-U amongst other), aimed at economic insertion of youths has been a major source of inspiration for many young entrepreneurs who are today employers. These governmental programmes have not only provided capital (interest-free loan, grants etc.) to start-uppers but also empowered them with business and professional skills. As youth in Cameroon are bracing up for the 52th edition of the Youth Day on February 11, their constant preoccupation is getting a decent job after graduation. This, the government is quite aware are is relentless in her efforts.