ADB Report: Creating New Jobs Major Challenge For Pacific

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High unemployment ‘confronts every country in the region’

By Jemima Garrett

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 3, 2014) – Creating new jobs is one of the most pressing challenges facing the Pacific, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank.

The latest edition of the ADB's Pacific Economic Monitor, released on Thursday, says unemployment is an issue that confronts every country in the region.

The report's author Chris Edmonds, senior ADB Pacific economist, told the ABC that not one country has enough jobs for school leavers, and there are many other people who cannot get work.

"The challenges that the different Pacific economies are facing in terms of the labour markets are very distinct.

"That said, in many of the economies low growth has meant that GDP growth has barely kept pace with population growth and in that environment, obviously, creating new jobs is a challenge.

But even in the larger countries, the growth is certainly not translating into the number of jobs they need to provide employment for their young and quickly growing populations."

The report says the region's working age population is likely to increase by more than three million by 2030.

On present trends, only one-third of them will be able to find paid employment.

Mr Edmonds says the government sector will not be able to provide jobs growth so more effort is needed to help the private sector.

"The common measures are things that include investments in infrastructure to improve the connectivity in the region, and business environment reforms to make it easier to start (a business) and adjust the employment of new businesses.

"It is also things like investing in education and training of Pacific workers.

"We see that a number of Pacific countries are undertaking important investments in their vocational training programs, such as Timor-Leste [East Timor] and in their higher education, USP (University of the South Pacific) campus on Kiribati and also in their basic education systems."

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