The Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) has been challenged to move from rhetoric into demonstrable action in executing its mandate as one of the catalysts of economic growth as well as diversification towards knowledge based economy.
As part of its mandate, HRDC is responsible for planning, funding of the education, training and advising the Government of Botswana on all matters related to human capital development. HRDC was this week confronted by experts to ensure that it fully pursues its mandate accrued from the number of its structures created for overseeing the transition of Botswana from a resource based to knowledge based economy.
During the 2019 National Human Resource Development Conference (NHRDC) held in Gaborone this week, experts lamented highly the continuous growing unemployment surge particularly heating hard on youth graduates.
The soaring graduates unemployment which is approximately standing at 87 000, according to some of pundits who graced the conference indicate that the rise in unemployment is a result of skill mismatch. However, HRDC boost of Human Resource Development Planning (Supply) department tasked with addressing the misalignment between the supply of graduates and the current requirements of the labour market.
Chief Executive Officer of LEA Dr Racious Moatshe said HRDC should revisit its strategy as well as providing empirical evidence to measure the progress of the country in shifting towards a knowledge based economy.
He indicated that HRDC should ensure that courses or curriculum as offered by the tertiary institutions is in line with what the industry needs with regards to graduate employability.
Dr Moatshe also said a knowledge based economy prospects are informed by research therefore calling on more robust research to be undertaken by HRDC with its other relevant stakeholders.
Stanbic Bank Chief Executive Officer, Sam Minta says the notion of Botswana evolving into knowledge based economy and producing competitive human resource in the midst of skyrocketing high unemployment particularly among youth graduates remains a big fallacy.
“A knowledge based economy is achievable through having a working population hence a competitive human resource can be realized. There is more talk but no action taking place in terms of implementing outcomes of conferences such as this hence leading to more theory with practice lacking,” he said.
Minta further said the Stanbic Bank is committed to bridging the skills gap through innovative public-private partnerships and programs that enhance the employability of young people in Botswana. Moreover, Bank of Botswana Governor Moses Pelaelo presenting the 2018 economic overview on Tuesday said high unemployment and income inequality levels remain serious obstacles to economic growth.
Pelaelo said there is existing disharmony or misaligned connection between stable macroeconomic economic outcomes such as insufficient growth rates, income inequality.
He said these challenges distract Botswana’s efforts in attaining the middle income status as well.
According to Minta, there should be serious implementation of the recommendations from more conferences that are held year in and out. He said this will fully culminate the practical move towards a knowledge based economy dream.
It was also proposed for effective collaboration of HRDC with other economy shift drivers such as Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) and the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) amongst others.
Research demonstrates that the poor implementation of the policies or strategies both at government and parastatal level such as HRDC remains the impediment to growth.
Kabo Diraditsile in a 2016 study titled “Improving youth unemployment in Botswana: The need for evidence based policy and programme development’’, argues that policy and programmes in response to youth unemployment in Botswana have hitherto not produced the desired results.
He says this occurs despite sustained political support reflected by massive government spending on youth development programmes with high number of youth being initiated and enrolled.
The study recommended that in order to address the prevailing challenges towards economic, greater emphasis should be put on research to generate reliable empirical data on the pervasive problem of youth unemployment in Botswana.