Job Summit: big opportunity or just talk shop

SHARE   |   Monday, 19 September 2016   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
Dr Pheko Dr Pheko

Public opinion on the value and necessity has been split right in the in the middle since the inaugural Job Summit initiative last year. Some view it as just a fundraising initiative for organisers while others have hailed it as much needed impetus to job creation. One of the conveners of the Job Summit, Dr Mpho Pheko has defended their initiative, saying they are creating a platform for various stakeholders to discuss how they can create jobs for the unemployed graduates. “The Job Summit does not create jobs but is an advocacy platform where all key players including government ministries, private sector, experts and individuals dialogue on job creation strategies,” she insisted. She said before the Job Summit there was no strategic single forum in Botswana that brought together stakeholders to facilitate discussions and specific strategies that can create jobs.

Asked if the 2015 Job Summit has produced any tangible results, Dr Pheko said it served as a platform for stakeholders to obtain a comprehensive overview of where the country is in terms of job creation, as well as to allow stakeholders to collectively design a national vision and strategies for job creation. Some critics of the Job Summit have viewed the conveners as people who are trying to push their own agenda including raising funds, something which Pheko vehemently denies. “The reasons why people had to buy tickets was that hosting the summit is very expensive as we have to pay for the expenses,” said Pheko. On the 2016 Summit Pheko revealed that they have asked some companies to sponsor some unemployed youth to attend the summit so that they can also air their views.

Associate Professor at the University of Botswana Brothers Malema says issue of unemployment should be looked at holistically. “The Job Summit is a good concept but they need to discuss the issue of employment from Botswana’s perspective rather than looking at it globally,” he said. Malema said a meaningful approach should be established through a combined effort as the issue of unemployment knows no political and societal lines, as it is a national problem. Political analyst Anthony Morima has dismissed the summit as another talk shop which will not produce any tangible results.“You cannot talk about job creation when we don’t have the National Skills Database and National Skills Tracer Studies because they are very important and will give guidance on how to address the unemployment issue,” he said. Morima posited that what Job Summit is doing is just repeating what has been done by other organisations like the Business Botswana at their 2012 National Business Council in Francistown. He called for clear mentorship and job shadowing programmes as some of the ways of giving graduates necessary skills.