The government plans to undertake a study on the prevalence of unemployment among graduates, which has become a topical issue given the country’s rising unemployment and lack of comprehensive labour data.
Ministry of Finance and Economic development’s permanent secretary Dr Wilfred Madlebe has revealed that one of its agencies, Botswana Statistics, plans on carrying out an in-depth research of unemployment among graduates. Madlebe admitted that existing data is not sufficient, thus masking the extent of unemployment among graduates.
Botswana’s labour data is at best confusing, and at most misleading. The data is usually collected through surveys, which work through sampling, thus leaving many outside its scope. With fears that the Covid-19 pandemic will cause job losses, Madlebe told the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) that it will take a while for Statistics Botswana to get an idea of how many jobs have been lost since the agency has been constrained as well to carry out door to door surveys.
He said the ministry together with other stakeholders are working on rolling out a comprehensive labour database that will inform government policies on how to deal with youth unemployment, especially among graduates. Through the economy slowed down in the last decade, the number of graduates has almost doubled in the same period.
Statistics Botswana’s multi-topic survey labour force report for this year’s first quarter (Q1 2020) estimates the country’s labour force to be 978,396, where 76.8 percent are employed, leaving 226,598 without jobs, which is 23.2 percent unemployment rate, higher than the 22.2 percent unemployment rate in 2019. When you add the estimated 59,212 discouraged job seekers, there are 285,813 people without jobs, resulting in the extended unemployment rate of 27.5 percent.
The lack of jobs in the sluggish economy has hit hard the young people most. Nearly 146,899 people under the age of 35 are jobless – representing more than half of the total unemployed people in the country. From the 226,598 jobless people, about 22.2 percent or more than 50,000 are graduates from tertiary institutions, while secondary school leavers account for 60.2 percent of unemployment.
In January, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) placed Botswana in the top ten of countries in the world with the worst youth unemployment rate. The organisation which defines labour as any work carried out by any economic active person aged between 15 and 24 years says the country’s youth unemployment rate of 37.1 percent puts it in the tenth position of countries hard hit by unemployment