Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Govt fears youth uprising, says employment a priority

Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President Carter Morupisi has implored parastatal heads to formulate initiatives within their organisations in an effort to absorb the country’s growing number of unemployed youth.

Addressing parastatal heads on Friday last week, Morupisi warned that the growing number of unemployed youth is a concern because failure to address the situation could lead to what he called an ungovernable situation in the country. He emphasised that employment creation has become a top priority for the government.

“I call upon you to do your level best and do more to absorb graduates without employment. We should also appreciate the fact that if we do not do anything, compounding effects of unemployment will grow; it can lead to an ungovernable situation in the country,” he said.

Morupisi said there is need to come up with suggestions and ideas on how to address unemployment. He said according to figures from the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) database, there were 15 000 unemployed youth holding degree qualifications.

“Last year we added another 4000 on list of those graduates,” he said. Morupisi explained that these figures exclude youth with certificates and diplomas and those who have not found their way to tertiary and those in the streets as well as form threes who could not find their way into form four or form five.

Morupisi stated that ministries would be required to provide a quarterly report on areas that they think can be looked at in terms of job creation. He added that the thrust is not to create jobs within the government but to facilitate a way through which the private sector can create employment.

“We have to create employment using the private sector as a vehicle that could be used to facilitate and promote employment creation,” he said. He said the average number of able bodied people who are unemployed stands at 170┬á000.

Morupisi also stated that parastatals could also contribute in poverty eradication saying there is a considerable number of citizens in the poverty bracket.

Commenting on the growing number of unemployed youth, Senior lecturer in Public Finance at University of Botswana (UB) Professor Emanuel Botlhale said Botswana must come to grips soon with the growing number of unemployed young people and should take urgent steps to address growing youth unemployment and poverty or risk social ills and political instability, a University of Botswana academic has warned.

“Unemployment has many and varied effects; e.g., loss of human resources (the unemployed youth should be contributing to the economy if employed); poverty; social ills (dishonesty, gambling, bribery, theft etc), political instability by disaffected youth etc,” said Botlhale.

Asked if the reintroduction of Tirelo Sechaba was a well thought out plan to address youth unemployment, Botlhale said; “It is difficult, if not impossible, for one to say whether or not the idea was a well thought-out initiative as far as addressing youth unemployment.”

However, Botlhale said, if one assumes that the public policy-making process is a deliberative and/or participative exercise, one can legitimately expect that the government consulted stakeholders, including the youth, before coming up with such an intervention.

“Hence, the idea would have been a well thought-out initiative. If, however, the opposite happened, it would not have been a well thought-out,” he said.

On what should be done to create quality job opportunities in the country, Botlhale said the current situation calls for a cocktail of ideas but the most important one is the design of the school curriculum.

“Currently, schools overwhelmingly produce white-collar graduates. Thus, there is a need for an overhaul of the curriculum so that there is more emphasis on vocational training,” said Botlhale.

Botlhale added that there is a need to evaluate or audit existing youth employment-creating schemes and find out why they are not producing the intended results (that is, creation of youth employment). With the evaluation or audit, corrective action should be mapped out.

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