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Through government’s latest initiative, ‘Graduate Volunteer Scheme,’ degree holders will earn a paltry P600 meal allowance and compete for possible promotion into the Internship programme. SUNDAY STANDARD reporter VICTOR BAATWENG compares the new scheme to previous short term measures introduced by government in the past few years.
Graduate Volunteer Scheme – P600
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Louis Malikongwa said in an interview that the new scheme is meant to facilitate skills transfer to young graduates. Under this new scheme, slated to start mid-April, unemployed graduates with degree qualifications will receive a meal allowance of P600 and a possible promotion into the National Internship Programme. According to government officials, the ‘Graduate Volunteer Scheme’ is intended to attach young graduates in organisations that have opportunities for volunteer work.
“The participants will not only contribute to community development, but they will also gain experience and improve their employment readiness through on the job training. Though they will generally be enrolled where they have accommodation, it’s possible for participants to stay with host families, particularly in the rural areas,” said Malikongwa.
The scheme will not cater for those who are already enrolled in other schemes such as National Internship and Tirelo Sechaba.
Tirelo Sechaba – P500
The national service programme, Tirelo Sechaba commenced on April1, 2014 with an initial 15, 000 participants attached to various government departments across the country. The programme was estimated to cost P178 million in the 2014/15 financial year, covering human and other resources. Participants’ allowances have been set at P500 per month, with P200 set aside on a savings account. At the time, government said Tirelo Sechaba, together with the Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) were initiated as a response to the problem of unemployment. The programmes, said then youth Minister Shaw Kgathi, will interface behaviour change, youth empowerment, poverty eradication and skills development. Tirelo Sechaba participants are mainly Junior Certificate holders and graduates from Vocational Training Centres and Brigades.
National Internship Programme – P1400
Participants in this program are the only ones who earn more than the prescribed national minimum wage. However, their allowance was cut from P2, 000 to P1, 400 in the 2013/14 financial year. The programme started in August 2008 and was targeted at unemployed graduates. It was no different from the other two as it also sought to develop and transfer skills, facilitate youth employability and seamless integration of graduates into the economy. Through the Internship Program, graduates will be accorded an opportunity to gain work-based skills while they explore other employment avenues. In April last year, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu said since inception, the Internship Program has absorbed about 8,758 unemployed tertiary education graduates in all sectors of the economy.
Outdated unemployment figures
Recently, government indicated that it was unable to avail the latest unemployment figures as such analysis would be incorrect, given recent signs of economic growth on the one hand, and a spate of retrenchments by some companies on the other. The Botswana Core Welfare Indicators Survey of 2009/2010 revealed that unemployment among youth stood at 46.6 percent. 42.6 percent of unemployed youth were aged 18 to 19, 34 percent aged 20-24 years, 22.4 percent 25-29 years and 17.2 percent aged 30-34 years old. Of all these, 17.5 percent went up to brigade level, 14.9 percent have done apprenticeships, 12.9 percent have vocational education, 4.7 percent are university graduates, while 20.8 percent have no formal or skills training. As an example of on-going retrenchments, Statistics Botswana will not be renewing the three year employment contracts of handymen and drivers who were engaged when the organization underwent a transformation process that gave it a certain degree of autonomy.??However, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo said Statistics Botswana will not conduct an adjustment unemployment rate following the spate of retrenchments.
“The analysis will be incorrect as the unemployment rate of the country could be increasing or up-down. Like I said during the budget speech, the economy is showing some signs of growth which means some sectors could be doing well and employing more individuals. Against this backdrop, it will be improper to conduct a survey to respond and correspond with the current situation based on the crisis faced by some individual companies or sectors.”??Matambo called on parliament and the entire nation to wait for a comprehensive national survey that will incorporate all sectors to present a well informed unemployment rate. The Minister was responding to a supplementary question from Gantsi South MP, Noah Salakae who asked if Statistics Botswana could be asked to conduct an immediate survey to ascertain the true levels of unemployment, given the recent spate of retrenchments by various private companies and parastatals organizations, including Statistics Botswana.