PNG population outgrows job market: Barker

Hundreds at an election rally in PNG

Papua New Guinea’s population has outgrown the number of jobs in the formal employment space, according to the country’s Institute of National Affairs (INA) executive director, Paul Barker.

Barker said the job market in PNG has barely grown since 2014.

He said with the growing population, large numbers do not gain any education and those who do gain limited literacy.

“PNG’s formal sector employment has barely grown over the past decade, according to Bank of PNG survey estimates, leaving more young people needing to be absorbed into the informal sector, in agriculture and urban trading especially,” he said.

“Papua New Guinea’s population has been rapidly growing, even if we don’t know the current number, while jobs have barely grown since 2014.

“Large numbers don’t gain any school education, and many who still gain limited literacy.

“There’s still a high wastage rate from the school system, at grades 6, 8, 10, while PNG’s colleges only take on about two-thirds of grade 12 (school) leavers.

“PNG’s urban areas have been growing fast, although many who have moved to town have limited skills for the urban job market, and little inclination or often capacity to return to rural areas.

“Agriculture, including semi-subsistence farming and fishing and cash cropping, provides employment for most people still, together with rural and urban informal economic activities.

“Growing population density is putting greater demands on land in many parts of PNG, necessitating intensification of production, but also more research and investment into productive land use.

“So the numbers coming from schools and colleges have been steadily increasing each year, but jobs in the formal sector have been flat, requiring more to remain in the informal sector, just as land pressure is building up and often young people either don’t have the relevant skills or often the inclination to work on the land.

“More jobs are coming up in the formal sector in Australia, with a low unemployment rate, and need for a range of professional and seasonal skills, but they’re still a very small portion of PNG’s total workforce. “Sadly, the job opportunities in PNG are few across the board,” he said.