Public service jobs for youth are not like food parcels
If Prince Mashele’s distortions and scaremongering about the recent government announcement on the relaxation of experience requirements for entry-level jobs in the public service was not to simply whip up emotions and arouse public sentiment, he would have taken time to interrogate the true nature of this intervention, instead of playing political games.
For a long time, graduates and young people with potential have been struggling to access and build careers in the public service. The public service itself has been struggling to fill junior positions in scarce occupations and critical areas of service delivery. So the interventions to bridge the gap are critical not for electioneering as Mashele suggests but to develop and sustain a fresh cohort of future public servants.
A mere 26.5% youth representation corroborates the effort to change the complexion of the public service. Older and experienced public servants are ready to exit the system and there are often complaints from the likes of Mashele that the state is wasting money on hiring consultants instead of investing in internal skills development. It boggles the mind that when government takes concrete steps to build its own capacity, it gets accused of “pulling the wool” over the eyes of the youth.
The National Development Plan (NDP) is very clear, the public service needs to place greater emphasis on potential. This means the recruitment strategy should not only focus on skills that people have today, but those they could develop while working. So the initiative to remove experience for entry-level jobs puts into practice this vision.
The insinuation that the removal of the experience requirement is supposed to swallow all new graduates into the system is nonsensical in the extreme. How can one shortlist all university graduates for jobs in government? Which system in the public or even private sector has ever guaranteed that all shortlisted candidates will get the job? This type of scaremongering is the one that “pulls the wool” over the eyes of those who stand to benefit from this initiative.
The public service is exploring all creative avenues of bringing youth into newly defined entry-level jobs. To equate long-term sustainable initiatives to the provision of food parcels and blankets is silly and demeaning.
As early as July this year, the minister for public service and administration launched the graduate recruitment scheme to position the public service as a career of choice to new graduates.
Instead of casting aspersions on these important initiatives, public figures like Mashele ought to be supporting them.
Another important feature is the ring-fencing of a 10% of each departments’ vacancy rate for the envisaged entry of new graduates. The ring-fencing and regrading of existing posts do not suggest government will need new money as Mashele wrongly suggests. The possibility of employer-initiated severance packages will be explored to open up e much-needed space to accommodate young people.
The scheme also does not seek to replace or obliterate internships, artisan programmes and other youth development initiatives.
The minister has a responsibility to address the scourge of youth unemployment and thus contribute to the socioeconomic development of the county as a whole.