Desperate search for jobs

Desperate search for jobs

MASERU-On Monday, 23-year old ’Mankeisi* joined hundreds of others in a queue at Maseru Central Police hopeful that he would get a job. She regretted the time she spent trying to earn a college diploma.

The police department announced 250 vacancies countrywide. On Monday alone, more than 500 people turned up at Maseru Central Police.
The police want to recruit people with no tertiary education qualifications.
As a result, ’Mankeisi’s is being forced to consider dropping out of the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) where she was in second year of her studies, despite the fact that she could have graduated with a diploma that would qualify her to teach at a primary school or junior secondary.

But the fear of spending the rest of her youth holding a brown envelope going from school to school seeking a job without success drove her to dump that dream and chase the police job.

“Even here, the competition is too high,” she said, leaving the police station.
“I will come back on deadline day as I believe there will not be a lot of people like today,” ’Mankeisi said, noting that she was beginning to lose hope she would get the police job. “I am just trying my luck.”

But she is certain that she will dump her college studies if she is recruited into the police, where employment after training is guaranteed.
Unemployment, especially among tertiary education graduates, is becoming a concern in Lesotho, prompting the government to moot selling labour to foreign countries.

Two years ago, then Public Service Minister Thesele ’Maseribane said the government was working on a plan to export labour abroad to fight youth unemployment.
Speaking at a public dialogue on means to improve local businesses and end unemployment, ’Maseribane said the then Foreign Affairs Minister Lesego Makgothi had been tasked with finding ways to export labour.

’Maseribane said the government was deeply concerned about the escalating number of unemployed youths, “especially university graduates”.
“We will ensure that our foreign missions know and have these statistics so that we work together to find opportunities all over the world for our people,” ’Maseribane said.
“Some countries have succeeded in doing this. It is also crucial for us to put it (the plan) to the test.”

’Maseribane said at least 14 000 unemployed graduates with qualifications ranging from a diploma to doctorate level are registered with his ministry. Many others are registered with the Ministry of Gender, including thousands who possess high school certificates and wandering around the streets jobless.

Lesotho’s youth unemployment rate, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for 2019, was estimated at 33.68 percent.
This excludes people who were retrenched due to the outbreak Covid-19 pandemic.
Majorobela, 24, is one of them. He too joined the queue for a police job.
“I have been looking for a job but it is tough,” he said.

By 6a.m on Monday, Majorobela was already at the police station to hold a position in the queue. But hundreds others had been there before him.
“It’s discouraging,” he said, adding that police work “is not my thing” but would take the job if he succeeds due to desperation.
“I am not in a position to choose now. All I need is money for my basic needs,” he said. “I will learn to love the job if I get it.”

Ralebitso, 29, said he has been unemployed for over five years now.
He says he has been relying on part time jobs but this year has been the toughest due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I have a family I need to provide for, including a very angry wife who nags me about my employment,” he said.

“I love them. I want to work so that I can be able to take care of them.”
Ralebitso said he used to sell fruits but he stopped because customers were too few.
“I am ashamed and I have withdrawn from social contact except when I hear of a vacancy somewhere,” he said. “It cuts deep hearing people insinuate that we (unemployed people) are just lazy.”

Mothepane, 22, lost her job as a factory worker after the outbreak of Covid-19.
“I am struggling financially and I am down to my last dime,” she said.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2020 Assessment of the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 report revealed that unemployment is “high and persistent”.

It is estimated at 32.8 percent.
“It is even higher among youths aged 15 to 24, at 43.2 percent,” the report reads noting that agriculture dominates employment in the private sector with two-thirds of Basotho working in the sector, followed by services (23 percent) and industry (10 percent).

Generally the report shows “working conditions and incomes are low, and as a result it is estimated that 39.7 percent of employed Basotho live on less than US$1.90 a day (38.8 percent women, 40.4 percent male and 46.6 percent for those aged 15–24).”

’Mapule Motsopa

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