According to the 2015/16 Botswana Multi-Topic Household Survey compiled by Statistics Botswana the youth (15-35 years) unemployment rate was estimated at 25.2 percent in comparison to 10.1 percent of the adults (36-64) and 5.4 percent of the pensioners ( 65 years+). These percentages give a total of 17.7 percent, which was estimated as the overall unemployment rate. The figures clearly indicate that the venomous bite of unemployment is gushing the young people.
A 2017 study by Goemeone Mogomotsi & Patricia Madigele from the University of Botswana titled ‘A cursory discussion of policy alternatives for addressing youth unemployment in Botswana’ that the common excuse for graduate unemployment is the non-employability of the graduates. “This is attributed to the failure of the education system to give the graduates practical work skills required in the industry,” says the study. It identified the reluctance of employers to hire young people because of the additional transaction costs such as the provision of further bridging courses or restructuring the work place to incorporate the necessary skills. The study also makes a comparison with South Africa, a neighboring country, where efforts to bridge the existing practical skills gap among the youth are seen through the established Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). The SETAs, it says, are funded by contributions made by employers through the Skills Development Levy. “Through this policy intervention, employers can employ workers through a learnership contract in order to train the workers while they receive practical work experience,” says the study. The study observed similarities with initiatives government introduced such as the Graduate Internship Programme and Tirelo Setshaba but points out that their effectiveness is yet to be established. It says that observations point to the practice by businesses in using the programmes as a source of free labor
in that they are not required to pay subsistence allowance to the participants but the allowances are rather the responsibility of government.
Mogomotsi and Madigele pointed to the reality that government has not been able to adequately create sustainable employment opportunities for graduates. Instead, it has implemented temporary unemployment relief programmes with short-term span.
University of Botswana Associate Professor, Brothers Malema, also identified in his report titled ‘Unemployment and the Attributes of the Unemployed in Botswana’ that the youth aged 15-34 were faced with serious unemployment problem. They amounted to almost 80 percent of the unemployed at 79.7 percent, the report cited.
Mogomotsi and Madigele emphasised the need for the government to play an active role in employment creation. “The government should implement real and sustainable solutions to growing unemployment and stop focusing on seemingly unsustainable strategies with short-term tenure and low wage rates,” it says. It argues that the government, contrary to some views, has the responsibility to create and provide jobs to the general populace. “Unlike the developed countries, Botswana as a developing country should concern itself with the creation of jobs within the public service in light of the small and heavily public finance reliant private sector.” It adds that government should create an enabling environment
for the private sector to create sustainable employment opportunities.