Member of Parliament (MP) for Gaborone Central Dr Phenyo Butale, has requested government to establish a National Employment Agency to spearhead job creation and ensure alignment of education with the needs of the economy.
Butale tabled the motion before Parliament on Friday.
He stated that despite the country being classified as upper middle income, the challenge seems to be one that is elusive in terms of solutions. He said this clearly required appropriate policies and programmes that could be developed by government and other stakeholders with the assistance of development partners.
“Research on the matter is barely sufficient and solutions to assist the affected groups to enhance their employability remain scarce and inaccessible,” he stated.
Butale observed that the available figures showed that from 1991 until 2010, Botswana unemployment rate averaged 18.10 percent, reaching an all-time high of 23.80 percent in December of 2006 and a record low of 13.90 percent in December of 1991.
He stated that the latest figures from Statistics Botswana show that the country’s unemployment rate is at 20.0 percent, while poverty levels are estimated at over 20 percent, together with high income inequality. However, he said given the challenges in gathering accurate data in the country, the figure could be far higher than this.
“In one of its annual reports, Bank of Botswana suggests that looking ahead, providing enough jobs will become more challenging in the context of modest rates of economic growth compared to the past,” said Butale.
He spoke of BoB notes in its 2015 Report that key factors explaining the unemployment problem in Botswana are relatively undiversified economy, a large public sector as well as the labour force that is inadequately trained and has low motivation.
He said in his budget speech delivered in February 2016, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Kenneth Matambo, admitted that unemployment, especially among the youth, was one of the development challenges facing the domestic economy.
“Some of the economic activities with potential for creating employment opportunities, which government will be undertaking during 2016/2017 include: infrastructure backlog eradication, road networks and maintenance, wildlife and tourism initiatives, continued implementation of Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) initiatives, creation of Special Economic Zones, as well as regulatory reforms and improving efficiency”, Butale cited Matambo’s notes.
Butale observed that qualifications, knowledge and skills, personal attributes, as well as other factors play an important role in individual’s employability. He added that the same attributes also play a pivotal role in promoting employment, economic growth and inclusive societies.
He is of the view that the gap between the skills required on the job market and those possessed by the individuals also raise questions on the quality of education in the country. He said the ability of the country to fully utilise and capitalise on its workforce is especially vital in developing country like Botswana, where the contribution of all individuals is important to the country’s general development, growth and sustainability.
He added that the skills demand challenges are compounded by the labour market, which is becoming intensive, not only in the private sector but also in parastatals and government.