(Interview – Part II)

Roland Dubois, president of the Youth Employment Program (YEP), went on to tell AfricaMoney that the current year’s target is to place another 4,000 youth under YEP. Our dynamic expert stressed that the youth must be willing to accept work in any shape or form and work hard to chart their way upwards in an organisation.

  • While the YEP is going strong, the unemployment rate is expected to increase to 8.2% in 2013. How is it possible, in your views, to enhance the YEP to counter growing unemployment?

We have targeted to place another 4,000 youth during the course of this year under YEP. Besides, we have other programs such as the dual training program as mentioned by the government under the present budget. Beyond the YEP, the government has modified the Tertiary Education Act last year to bring in consultative committees, because we realised that universities are delivering program that are not needed by industry. These committees comprise representatives from both the private sector and the University and are supposed to meet quarterly.

This committee is expected to assist the institute to dissect the courses they are delivering in terms of whether they are responsive to industry and what courses they need, so that they all work together and, at the end of the day, produce graduates who are employable by industry.

Moreover, we are launching a training on employability skills which will be paid for by the government for all the youth registered with YEP. The first batch of training is starting at the end of this month.

The apprenticeship program which has been implemented by the IVTB/MITD in Mauritius has been based on the dual apprenticeship system in Germany which is the most effective mode of training because it focuses on on-the-job training. The student spends 4 to 5 days per week in a company and 1 day in a training institution.

At the end of the day the students know the company, its culture and they develop experience while working in the company. At the end of their training, virtually everybody is employed by the company where they have had their apprenticeship training.

Also, under this budget, we are coming up with a dual training program to extend apprenticeship to a diploma and degree level where the Programmes will be developed, designed and offered jointly by a tertiary institution and private sector. This will ensure graduates who are employable immediately. We intend to train some 500 youth at diploma level and another 125 at degree level. We plan to start the first diploma soon.

Another outstanding initiative in the ICT space is the Ebene accelerator, which is all about the government giving facilities to graduates to develop their own apps. There are 10 start-ups already employing some 35 youth and the plan is to increase that to 60 before the end of this year.

We are going ahead with an employment trends survey to look at the trends in jobs in traditional and emerging sectors. We expect the first report in May. This will help institutions to know which courses to offer and youth to better decide their fields of studies. There is also the Extended Africa Strategy to help us leverage on employment opportunities in the continent and the potential is huge – South Africa alone is in need of as many as 3,500 medical doctors. The film industry is also blooming in Mauritius and here, we have taken on the responsibility of training youth to be absorbed in the film industry. All in all, we are working on many projects to beat youth unemployment.

  • What are the outcomes of the surveys and evaluations conducted by the Skills Working Group (SWG), as it is said that ongoing surveys and evaluations are conducted during the programme?

Semester-wise sub-assessment is being done and it is currently ongoing because it is being done six months after the recruitment of youth. Moreover, feedback which has been collected so far is very positive.

It is also important to mention that out of those that we have placed, there have been just 222 dropouts – out of which 82 have found permanent jobs already while there are some who resigned for one reason or another, some have gone back to university while some feel that they are not interested in their job. Overall, the figures for dropouts are not bad and in fact, I can say that they are insignificant when we compare them to the over 4,000 who have been placed. Now that we have run the programme for one year, we are starting an audit on all the achievements and areas of improvement.

  • We have seen that many companies are having problems in recruiting people due to lack of experience and competency of the applicants, and on the other hand, like you have once said, “young people are not ready to accept just any kind of employment”. What do you project in order to solve this problem and bring companies and youth on the same page?

It is true that youth are not prepared to accept just any job. For instance, there are so many jobs in the BPO segment, but the sector is finding it very difficult to recruit amongst the youth. Recently, I received a feedback from one big BPO company to whom we had sent a list of youth for interview for possible employment. Out of eight persons that were contacted by the company, four said that they were not interested to work in the BPO sector. In my view, this is unbelievable.

Youth today only want to get a job in their field of studies. However, I always advise them to take up any job as working is a training process and helps the person to learn and develop his or her competencies.

The youth also do not want to travel long distances or work in shifts. And there is a problem of communication and lack of information leading to issues such as many youth failing to turn up for interviews.

I strongly believe that we need to completely change the way the youth have been trained and taught in their field of studies. They must adapt to the new modes of working. We are living in a global village and need to compete with other countries. People must be willing to accept work in any shape or form and work hard to chart their way upwards in an organisation.

By Marie-Lorry Coret and Marie Cecilia Samoisi – Image: AfricaMoney

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