Foreign jobs to rescue SA, Zim graduates

In a bid to address the plight of graduates from South African and Zimbabwean universities who are having difficulties securing formal employment, the two governments in Pretoria and Harare have entered into agreements with other governments in the SADC region to absorb the graduates.

The two governments have come up with the measures to deal with the problem of the rising number of unemployed graduates.

Graduates in the two countries are having to contend with joblessness as both South Africa and Zimbabwe’s economies face challenges.

The two countries’ economies have not been able to tap into the expertise of the graduates churned from the several universities in the two countries and others graduating from foreign universities.

South African President Jacob Zuma, on June 16 at the National Youth Day commemorations in Pretoria, admitted that the country’s economy was not growing fast enough, and so “many of our graduates sit at home”.

He also urged the unemployed to think outside the box and become entrepreneurs to lessen the burden of job creation on government.

According to StatsSA, 5,5-million young people in South Africa between the ages of 15 and 35 are unemployed and a third of these are graduates.

President Zuma also challenged the private sector to take the graduates for internship programmes since employment creation is not the sole prerogative of the government.

“We have to work together to provide opportunities for our graduates who are the future of our country. 

Government cannot perform this task alone. We thank all businesses that continue to employ young people and offer opportunities to them. 

We are also encouraging young people to become entrepreneurs,” he said.

South Africa’s law graduates are failing to get a lifeline in the country’s legal system as there are no opportunities.

The South African government felt obliged not to leave the law graduates to their own fate.

The authorities in Pretoria have opened a channel for the law graduates through an agreement with the government of Botswana that will see the graduates write examinations for them to be admitted to the Botswana bar and secure employment in the neighbouring country.

Botswana’s legal advisor at the Government Implementation Coordination Office (GICO), Bongani Radipati, called on law graduates from South African universities to take advantage of their government’s sponsorship to write attorneys’ admission examinations conducted by the Law Society of Botswana.

“We are creating jobs for South African graduates and this is the position held by the two countries. 

The examinations are fully paid for by their government, it would be in the interest of the graduates to sit for the exams in order to be admitted into our legal system,” said Radipati.

The Zimbabwean government has also found a way of helping place graduates from the country’s universities and other tertiary institutions in jobs in neighbouring countries and even as far as South Sudan.

Realising the need to provide jobs and create opportunities for the graduates, the Harare government last year launched the Government Graduate Entrepreneurial and Employment Promotion Programme.

The programme provides youths with entrepreneurial skills and on-the-job skills. 

Under the programme, graduates can also be earmarked for projects such as potato production, horticulture, livestock and cattle fattening.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) has no official statistics on jobless graduates, but has a compiled list of those enrolled at the institutions of higher learning.  

The Zimstats figures show that there was a total enrolment of 84 143 students in 2013 in the country’s universities.

Lack of opportunities to secure employment in the formal economy has forced many graduates to resort to the informal trade while others end up working in fields they did not specialise in.

The declining job market has forced many Zimbabwean graduates to settle in South Africa where they are doing menial jobs as waiters, barmen and bar ladies.

The fact of Zimbabweans (graduates or non-graduates) working in South Africa has triggered resentment among the locals leading to xenophobic attacks with locals accusing the foreigners of taking their jobs.

Associate professor at the University of Witwatersrand Pumla Dineo Gqola wrote in The Africa Report that “angry young South African men scream that foreigners steal jobs, house, and opportunities, hence they need to go home or die here”.

This week, the Zimbabwean government revealed that a database of graduates was being created for possible job placements both abroad and locally when opportunities arise.

Under the programme, also known as brain circulation, government is inviting all graduates from tertiary institutions who graduated since 1980 to forward their names for possible employment in several African countries with which government has signed labour exportation agreements.

Speaking to The Herald, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Dr Godfrey Gandawa said the government would also financially benefit from the arrangement as the receiving countries would pay a certain amount, as well as cater for the welfare of the exported staff.

“We are coming up with a policy to help our skilled manpower get jobs because there are countries with vacancies in various fields, but our people do not have access to those vacancies out there.

“We are still developing our human export policy and we have already signed memoranda of understanding with countries like South Sudan, Botswana, Angola and Namibia on that,” said Dr Gandawa.

Educationists commended the Zimbabwean government for coming up with the initiative acknowledging that the system will see the countries involved mutually benefiting.

“The development is progressive and a strong framework for economic recovery. This can also lead to strong and affordable lines of credit being opened for Zimbabwe.

“When the situation improves, this rich pool of manpower will then come home to develop the economy. 

There is no need to keep graduates idle or disadvantage them by engaging them in aspects that they did not specialise in. 

They will become irrelevant if there are no measures to cushion them due to the diminishing employment opportunities,” said Dr Richard Mugadza.

 In South Africa, President Zuma said the Industrial Development Corporation in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency, which falls under his office, and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) have ring-fenced 2,7 billion Rand over the next five years for young people to take up opportunities in business.

 He said in the last financial year, the NYDA supported 1 043 micro and small youth owned enterprises.

 “Furthermore, the NYDA has provided non-financial business development support to sixty two thousand nine hundred and ninety (62 990) young aspiring and established entrepreneurs. 

Other service provided to youth includes national service training through programmes such as the National Rural Youth Service Corps in which young people are provided skills in fields such as construction and agriculture as well as discipline and good citizenship. 

 The successful Expanded Public Works Programme also provides opportunities of training and short-term employment for young people.  

We have urged government departments to market the various training and development programmes that they offer nationally and provincially, as well as in municipalities in the country. 

Already various Ministers and Deputy Ministers are engaged in a month long imbizo programme engaging our youth in various corners of our country, to inform them of opportunities that exist. Once young people take up these opportunities their lives will improve further,” President Zuma said.

June 2015
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