FINANCE minister Moeketsi Majoro says over 150 000 youths have registered for youth unemployment relief programme that instead can only accommodate 8 500 people.
Dr Majoro said this while addressing the annual Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA) conference recently. He said at least 10 percent of the registered 150 000, were graduates who are struggling to secure employment.
The registrations are for an apprenticeship programme and a public works programmes. Both started 12 August 2019 across the country.
The initiative, which will continue for the next six years, is part of the government’s response to the pervasive youth unemployment crisis in the country.
The apprentice programme is aimed at placing 3 500 youth graduates in on the job training posts to afford them the much-needed experience and make job-ready.
The government will then match the skills of the youths with suitable companies and provide a stipend to the engaged youths. Businesses which are interested in the initiative are also expected to register with the government.
On the other hand, the public works programme is aimed at placing 5 000 unskilled youths into different Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation posts. They will work on programmes like asset mapping at community level to identify government assets in different communities for revitalisation for the benefit of the respective communities.
It will also involve maintenance of roads, dams, irrigation schemes and donga rehabilitation. The government will provide wages in accordance with similar existing public works programmes.
And addressing the recent conference, Dr Majoro said the country had become desperate due to joblessness.
“We are in a very desperate situation of joblessness,” Dr Majoro said.
“The number of youths who registered in the public works programme is over 150 000, with 15 000 graduates who have not worked for the last ten years. And most of them are teachers.
“If we did not have this programme, many of them would never be in any job setting. But we are training them. Those who do not have degrees are over 100 000.
“We have been working over the past month to punch in every one of them into the system.”
Dr Majoro also lamented the lack of quality skills on the market.
“Even if we were to create jobs, we do not have the quality skills to take advantage of those jobs.
“We have the largest proportion of the budget devoted to education, yet we have the worst quality of education. It is the same thing with health.
“We seem to like curative health. Our health system allows us to fall sick first, and then we want to inject you with something. And we blow a good chunk of the budget. Our second largest budget allocation is health but we are the most burdened country in terms of health.”
Dr Majoro also advised delegates at the conference who were mostly accountants to take interest in politics as the country may benefit from their quality leadership.
“This country is at the crossroads and we are at the point where have to choose good or bad. And the probability of choosing good is equal to choosing bad. So, you must choose. You may stand and watch and that is when others are going to make decisions for you.”
For his part, Nedbank Lesotho managing director Nkau Matete, said the private sector had some reservations about supporting the government’s job creation initiative.
“There is a public perception that the government is corrupt and therefore the private sector would not want to be contaminated with the perceived corruption within the government,” Mr Matete said.