Statistics Botswana (SB) this week announced unemployment figures which indicate that unemployment rate has declined between the periods 2009/2010 and 2015/16. The data collecting agency says currently unemployment rate stands at 17.7 percent for the population aged 15 years and above and those 18 years and above stood at 17.6 percent, an improvement from 19.9 percent in 2011, according to the SB figures. These figures from SB were this week subject of debate considering that many people lost their jobs during that period as a number of mines closed while on the other hand parastatals retrenched and many other organisations from other sectors of the economy. The latest employment figures include those serving in Ipelegeng – a government social safety net programme meant to provide short term employment mostly to the elders which has since been embraced by the youth too – as the employed and it accounts for 6.2 percent of the total employed labour force, surprisingly ahead of other sectors such as parastatals which accounts for 4.3 percent of the labour force. While the private sector has been the one responsible for shedding jobs over the past years, it however still remains the largest employer, absorbing 44.6 percent of the labour force followed by the public administration at 22.1 percent and private household at 12.2 percent. Jobs lost include 400 at Boseto Copper Mine previously owned by Discovery Metals in 2015 as well as those from two African Copper Mines, Thakadu and Mowana Mines.
Considering the fact that the survey ended in November 2016, a month after the closure of BCL Group Mines that resulted in about 6, 000 job losses, this would mean that the BCL job losses are also included in the survey.The debate this week has been that, if anything the figure would have gone up instead of declining. Subsistence farming is next at 9.9 percent and next to it is Ipelegeng at 6.2 percent followed by parastatals at 4.3 percent. In coming up with data, SB says unemployed persons were those individuals who did not do any work in the past seven days during the survey period and were in the ages 15 years and above. The survey by SB estimates the unemployed population aged 15 years and above over at 149, 000 which comprised 68,535 males and 80, 765 females. The figure is mostly dominated by Junior Certificate holders at 39.4 percent, senior secondary school certificate at 22.8 percent and primary education at 14.8 percent. Unemployment rate among university degree holders is estimated at 11.4 percent or 16, 956 of the total unemployed. Thousands of graduates are churned out from universities and colleges struggle to secure permanent jobs both in the public and private sector and the number of unemployed graduates could be high when taking into account those that are in government schemes such internship and on temporary employment.