Island News

Scheme to assist school leavers

Written By : Vani Catanasiga. Makereta Raikoro was one of the estimated 17,000 individuals who entered the labour market last year. Ideally, Makereta should have found employment easily having just
19 Jul 2008 12:00

image Written By : Vani Catanasiga. Makereta Raikoro was one of the estimated 17,000 individuals who entered the labour market last year.
Ideally, Makereta should have found employment easily having just graduated with a Bachelor of Education in History and Politics from the University of the South Pacific.
But this wasn’t the case.
“For four to five months, I had been drafting application letters, applying to just about everywhere while waiting to hear from employers,” the 25 year old said.
“I have no work experience except for a teaching attachment in 2007 at a high school.”
Like some of her classmates, Makereta has had to deal with the fact that there are no teaching vacancies to cater for new graduates.
“One thing I’ve since discovered is that a degree alone is not sufficient, for experience is what counts for many employers,” she said.
“Degree holders now have to re-think their whole approach to securing employment,” the Kadavu lass said.
“Now whenever opportunities open up, we accept, despite pay and work conditions so that we can gain experience so it reflects well on our curriculum vitae.”
But Makereta counts herself blessed nowadays, having just secured an attachment stint with allowance at the Ministry of Labour through the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS).
The NYSS which was launched as the Ministry of Youth and Sports youth development flagship programme for 2008 is an employment promotion strategy that focuses on human resource development to increase “green” employment opportunities, incomes and productivity.
“The NYSS targets 15 to 35 year olds, and 2,000 individuals for 2008,” said NYSS Manager, Vilimone Baledrokadroka.
“We are looking specifically at school leavers, unemployed / under-employed youths and those youths who are disadvantaged,” he said.
NYSS as a concept, has existed since the reign of the Alliance Government but has evolved over the past decades.
But its review and reform this year is a result of the ministry’s efforts to effectively answer the long-standing issue of youth empowerment for productive economic participation.
“Unlike previous youth development efforts which were characterized by piecemeal, ad hoc approaches and targeted at empowering youths socially, the NYSS is systematic and structured, responding to market trends,” Mr Baledrokadroka said.
“From the ministry’s perspective, it is the quality of service intervention that is most crucial for the full use of youth potential for economic development.”
This view is not far off the mark according to the findings of the World Bank’s World Development Report 2007: Development of the Next Generation.
The report, which revealed that the number of youth relative to other age groups in today’s world is higher than it has ever been, urged governments to translate these large youth populations into economic growth.
“Putting a youth lens on these policies, the report presents three strategic directions for reform,” the report stated.
This, the report highlighted, includes opportunities, capabilities and second chances as the strategic directions and emphasizes the importance of investing in young people now. It proposed that governments broaden the opportunities for developing human capital by expanding access to and improving the quality of education and health services.
“..and by facilitating the start to a working life and by giving young people a voice to articulate the kind of assistance they want and a chance to participate in delivering it,” the report stated.
It called for the development of young people’s capabilities to choose well among these opportunities by recognizing them as decision-making agents.
“…and by helping to ensure that their decisions are well informed, adequately resourced and judicious…”
It also emphasised the need for the provision of an effective system of second chances through targeted programs that give young people the hope and the incentive to catch up from bad luck or bad choices.
Like countries in the region, Fiji is also experiencing a youth population boom according to the Bureau of Statistics 2003 estimates.
NYSS target group of 15 to 35 year olds account for 35.4 per cent of the population -a rise of almost 15 per cent from the 1996 youth population figure.
“This is really what NYSS is about – harnessing the potential that this population boom presents to us,” Mr Baledrokadroka said. Comprising of five major components; registration, skills for life training, specific skills training, industrial work attachment and options for local employment, overseas employment, volunteer services and youth SME, the scheme has been designed to ensure the full transition of youths from registration and training to income generation and placement in employment.
To date, exactly 2128 youths have been through the Skills for Life training throughout the country and 77, mostly university graduates – have successfully found industrial attachment contracts in 15 private and public organizations.
“We are thankful to the Fiji Employers Federation who contributed to this general feeling of support from employers by endorsing the scheme and calling for cooperation from its members at the beginning of the year,” Mr Baledrokadroka said.

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