Editorial: Job experience as a prerequisite for employment should not be a major factor

In 2010, the government removed one of the biggest hurdles that was negatively affecting youth employment; prior job experience foe newcomers.

The condition deprived fresh graduates job opportunities, even at the entry level. How was one supposed to get work experience if they were not employed in the first place? It was a very discriminatory practice which the government soon realized was adding to the challenges of youth unemployment.

But that in itself would not address the issue of unemployment, so other avenues were devised such as putting in place conducive policies to encourage job creation. It is one policy that has helped to keep unemployment rates low (16.7%, according to last year’s figures).

Since the public service currently employs only 100,000 people, the private sector absorbs that largest part while the rest depend on their wits and create jobs for themselves.

But employment conditions in the private sector still swear by the need to have prior work experience. While it would make sense for senior managerial positions, that should not be the case for low level positions.

The private sector could ease those conditions, especially in the manufacturing sector, by encouraging apprenticeship. Many countries with strong manufacturing sectors do the same; by learning on the job and slowly rising through the ranks.

That creates skilled labour, especially for those who have not been able to pursue higher education. But in order to put a severe dent in the unemployment situation, the private sector needs to change its mindset and be a vehicle of change in the labour process; experience only comes by working, not walking through corridors knocking on every door, most of the time unsuccessful because people lack the magical ingredient in the private sector; experience.

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