The minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng says more internship programme graduates are being absorbed into the workforce.
He told The Monitor that through the programme, which many in the opposition have dismissed as modern day slavery, many graduates have found permanent appointments in the host organisations.
The internship programme, he said, has given the graduates the much needed work experience, lack of which was an impediment to university graduates in the past.
“Most of the jobs that were advertised in newspapers were looking for a person with two or three years of experience. Therefore graduates who had no experience were always disadvantaged. Internship programme had therefore helped some graduates to acquire experience which they needed most,” Olopeng said.
He said their database shows that 5, 934 graduates who were on internship programme had been absorbed into the work force. Of these, 2, 950 graduates were absorbed into the public sector, 1, 462 by parastatals, 1, 362 private sector while NGOs hired 160.
He said while many may not appreciate the programme, for interns serious about their future, it is a critical step. To keep records of the unemployed graduates from the programme, Olopeng said they have since opened an office.
“The P600 that we are giving to graduates is not a salary rather is the money to assist them for transport. The whole purpose here is to assist them to have experience. The companies nowadays want people with some experience because they do not want to take more time teaching someone,” he explained.
While the ministry has no statistics, the minister confirmed that they were minimal reported cases of exploitation in host organisations.
“If there is concrete evidence, we go to that office to question them and appropriate action can be taken against it. We do visit our children who are on internship to know how they are doing and challenges they are facing. This helps us also to know how we could assist them,” he said.
On Tirelo Sechaba programme, the minister said 10, 126 youth had enrolled with the programme. He stressed that this is not graduates programme. There were challenges, he admitted, some of which being not paying participants on time.
“We have engaged Barclays Bank and BotswanaPost so that the youth who had enrolled with the scheme may get paid on time. I do not think we owe anyone since we asked those who were not paid to visit our nearest offices for the issue to be ironed out,” he said.
Another challenge regards participants who quit the scheme without notifying the ministry.