The Member of Parliament for the South East constituency, Odirile Motlhale, has urged government to introduce a Youth wage subsidy to lure the private sector to employ inexperienced graduates.
The proposal came through a motion that was put before parliament on Friday. He said, as a short term measure to fight unemployment among young people, a youth wage subsidy could actually attract the private sector to employ young people.
He said, with a youth wage subsidy, government would provide an incentive for the private sector to impart skill by hiring unemployed youths with government footing the bill for a part of their wages.
Motlhale told parliament that, as it stands, young people cannot easily get employment because most employers want to hire skilled personnel who will be ready to do the job. He said to most companies, inexperienced jobseekers are seen as a risk and expensive because they possess no skill.
He said many countries such as United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Poland and Turkey utilised youth subsidy as an ideal way to fight unemployment.
He said while no single policy program could solve the unemployment problem, Botswana could do with a youth subsidy scheme.
Motlhale criticized the current graduate internship programme as unhelpful because it only catered for University graduates holding degree and diploma certificates.
He pointed out that a large pool of young people from other tertiary institutions, such as Vocational training schools and brigades, were not catered for under the graduate internship programme.
“A youth employment subsidy will not, in itself, solve unemployment among young Batswana looking for employment. What it will, however, do is assist young, inexperienced workers gain work experience, access jobs in the formal sector and improve their employment prospects in the long run,” said Motlhale.
“By lowering the relative cost of employing young and less skilled workers, the youth employment subsidy aims to narrow the gap between entry-level real wages and productivity for young people, thereby reducing the riskiness associated with hiring inexperienced workers,” he added.
He said from the available figures it was evident the private sector accounts for a very small percentage of the uptake of the internship programme.
Motlhale also warned that with government having frozen recruitment within the public sector for the next three years, unemployment among young people will worsen.
He said unemployment among young people accounts for around 34 percent, adding that lack of employment could turn young people into social delinquents and drug abusers.
“Early school leavers without regular employment may resort to risky income generation and livelihood activities such as prostitution and crime, which may put them at the risk of being victims of HIV/AIDS and human trafficking,” he said.
Motlhale said a youth subsidy scheme could mitigate the country’s unemployment problem.