The Ministry of Labour has emphasized the need to focus on human development as part of an effort to ease unemployment.
Speaking to newsmen on Thursday at a one day validation of the Decent Work Country Program held in Thinkers Village, outside Monrovia, the Deputy Minister for Planning and Human Resource Development, J. Levi Demmah, said the validation of the document would support the meeting of major challenges facing the country.
According to him, the document, which focuses on the Decent Work Country Program, was developed by former Labor Minister Samuel Kofi Woods and the current administration decided to re-introduce it because it is essential for the entire work force of Liberia.
“Today, from our survey conducted in 2010, we realize that most of the people we consider as having jobs are within the informal sector, amounting to 68%. People riding bikes, washing cars and others are not considered part of the work force,” he said.
“Firstly, we are looking at the social dialogue and protection at the work place. As a country I will say that currently we are at the middle and there are many issues that are confronting the work force and we are working on them now through the framework,” he said.
He added “We need to help some of them by taking them out of the informal sector and bringing them into the formal sector.”
Mr. Demmah said issues of health and safety at the work place are also important, including, pension and injury compensation.
He, however, attributed the large number of people in the informal sector to limited education and said it is one of the reasons a framework is important.
The Ministry of Labor, he said, is also looking forward to the Decent Work Bill currently before the Legislature. “But Labor needs to have a framework that is supported by the International Labor Organization (ILO), to buttress the Ministry’s efforts in protecting the Liberian workforce,” he noted.
He explained that Liberia could only benefit from the ILO if there was a framework that would support ideas to strengthen both employers and employees.
Mr. Demmah said many people contend that jobs have been given to foreigners; and they also complain of capital flight. But, he explained, “There is the issue of capacity, which is also a serious problem for Liberia.”
Mr. Demmah explained that it is difficult to find certain professionals for both the public and private sectors.
He continued, “What we need to do is to make sure that people are prepared to take over some of the jobs foreigners are holding. And I can say that the framework is supporting the empowerment of the people.”
Liberia, he said will be a middle income country according to Vision 2030, but noted, “We have to create the platform for those that will make it work.”
He explained that since the document was developed in 2009 the Ministry did not validate or executed it.