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Graduates unemployment hits crisis level

graduates

Fresh information from the government enclave highlights how the job situation for fresh graduates is worsening.  The data also shows that Botswana’s graduate unemployment is at crisis level with the government asking ministries and departments to consider placing thousands of fresh graduates on the national internship and Tirelo Sechaba programmes.

In a savingram seen by this publication dated 26 October 2021, the Ministry of Youth, Empowerment, Sport and Culture Permanent Secretary Kago Ramokate suggests that his ministry is stuck with thousands of fresh graduates who have failed to secure employment on their own without government support.  The ministry’s plea highlights the growing high levels of youth unemployment that the country is grappling with.  The savingram was addressed to various Government ministries and departments requests them to consider graduates for opportunities in national internship and Tirelo Sechaba Programmes.

The Ministry explained that it implements the Botswana National Service Programme commonly known as Tirelo Sechaba and National Internship Programme to give young people opportunities to gain work readiness skills and allow them to serve their communities. Participants also receive an allowance for their welfare, Ramokate explained.

“As a result of the debilitating effects of COVID-19, placement of young people in these programme was minimized due to workplace requirements for compliance with health and safety measures. Movement restrictions, social distancing and the need to decongest offices meant that only a few participants could be accommodated in the public service,” the ministry said.

It also noted further that participants who completed their term of office were in most cases not replaced. “During this time, enrolment of young people drastically dropped and many aspiring young people were left idle with no immediate opportunities in sight,” the Ministry said.  The savingram says that as the State of Emergency has come to an end and the disease situation is improving, ministries and departments are requested to consider uptake of interns and Tirelo Sechaba Participants. The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development said it could only enroll participants where ministries have indicated availability of opportunities.

The Ministry currently has a total of 3,365 slots for Tirelo Sechaba and 3,571 slot for Internship placements.  “We currently have a waiting list of 5,111graduates for internship broken down as follows, Medical Services 516, Sciences 392, Agricultural Science 266, Social Science 138, Transport Services, 173, Engineering 690, Architecture and Building Programs 289, Humanities, 222, Information and Communications Technology 103, education 279, Security 36, Business Administration 1608, Tourism and Hospitality 399,” said the ministry.

Ministries were therefore requested to assess their needs for Interns and Tirelo Sechaba participants and make requests for placement.  A source at the government enclave said that these are fresh graduates and does not include graduates who have been “job hunting” before the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the source, graduate unemployment was exacerbated by the pandemic. These, he said, number mask the number of underemployed youth in the country and there are fears that whether one has a degree or not his or her dream job might remain unreachable a little longer.

It is also understood that ministries have sent out pleas to various department requesting them to place the graduates under the national internship and Tirelo Sechaba programmes.  A report that was published by the African Development Bank (AFDB) found that Botswana was among 13 countries in SADC that experienced double digit youth unemployment which stood at 37.5 percent between 2011 and 2019 and got worse following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Countries that experienced an increase in youth unemployment include Namibia, Mauritius, South Africa, Botswana and Angola,” the AFDB observed. According to the report, “Overall, the high level of unemployment, especially among the youth, is due to inadequate skills, skills mismatch, limited economic diversification, and low absorption capacity of industries, growth models driven by capital intensive sectors (eg diamonds in Botswana), a lack of functional institutions, slow economic growth, and a lack of pro-employment macro-economic policies.”

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