Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Olopeng mum on “millionaires” to be

In 2015, the Minister responsible for Youth, Thapelo Olopeng made his intentions to produce atleast five young entrepreneur millionaires during his tenure at the ministry.

However, three years down the line, the nation is yet to get feedback on the ambitious project whose beneficiaries was to be youth.

At the time of making the promise, the minister, who has been buoyant on youth aligned policies, said that he will further ensure that a host of other young people succeeds in businesses.

Fast forward to 2018, Olopeng tell Parliament that the youth constituting the majority of the population continue to face myriad of challenges ranging from unemployment, poverty and missed opportunities. Olopeng was making a budget presentation for his ministry.

Meanwhile as part of efforts to empower the youth, Olopeng says they have funded 889 businesses to the tune of P92 million, following 1,796 applications for the Youth Development Fund (YDF).

“The funded businesses have created 1,653 employment opportunities for young people,” he said. “Disbursements of funds continues to be undertaken and it is expected that the entire budget allocation of P120 million will be spent by the end of the current financial year.”

The minister revealed that they are taking an active approach in helping young people to develop and sustain businesses through a combination of initiatives. Olopeng says the ministry’s annual youth business expo has helped improve market access for funded and other youth businesses. Furthermore, the minister says government’s adopted strategy of affirmative action in favour of youth entrepreneurs approved in 2015 is bearing the desired results.

“Significant progress in the implementation of affirmative action efforts was noted across ministries on implantation of the 15 percent quota reservation for youth, resulting in 698 youth companies having been awarded tenders to the value of P115.3 million,” the minister stated before adding that, “a total of 26 youth companies also benefitted from the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) at a tune of P87.8 million. I am encouraged as various ministries continue to implement affirmative action initiatives in favour of the youth.”

On skills upgrading, the minister reiterated that the government continues to implement various schemes intended to provide the youth with opportunities for meaningful engagement and development of employment readiness. The National Internship Programme currently has an enrolment of about 3,968 interns. The absorption of interns into full employment has been painstakingly slow with only 523 participants absorbed in the job market between April 2017 to date. It has been previously reported that there are currently 87,000 unemployed graduates in the country.

The ministry’s proposal for the 2018/2019 budget stands at P1 billion for recurrent budget and P120 million for development budget. The recurrent budget is up by 19 percent due to the ministry’s proposed engagement of 5,000 interns’ teachers and the newly introduced youth television channel.

From the P1 billion recurrent budget, the recently launched youth TV station is expected to gobble P50 million, while almost P400 million goes towards the Department of National Services and Internship. The budget for internship shows an increase of 38 percent, with the largest share of the budget at P319.7 million reserved for inters and national services allowances. Inclusive in this amount is the P85.2 million budgeted for the recruitment of interns teachers.

The proposed recruitment of interns as teachers is likely not find any favour of support from the society at large. The country’s education system is in shambles characterized by increasing failure rates, and many will fear that recruiting interns for such a demanding task will only add to the worsening solutions. The unemployed graduates will feel hard done by the offer of internship instead of full employment. Interns have bitterly complained about their working conditions, citing heavy workload that’s none different from work done by full time employees, yet earning a paltry P1320.00 per month.

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