By Bahle Gama
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says it has received over 2 000 applications for the Eswatini Youth Empowerment Programme (EYEP).
This was disclosed by the office during a media engagement on Wednesday morning at the UN House. The Programme which is being piloted by the UNDP has been running for about a year and is a graduate placement and artisanal skills livelihood project which will achieve its objectives and targets by establishing itself as a major pillar in the economic recovery and social transformation of Eswatini.
In his presentation, Sakhile Shabangu said most of the applications come from the Manzini region as they constitute about 41 per cent of all total applications, followed by the Hhohho region at 35 per cent, Shiselweni at 13 per cent and Lubombo at 11 per cent.
In terms of gender segregation, many of the applicants are females with an average of about 58 per cent of all applications, and males at 42 per cent. Shabangu said these statistics highlight the problem that Eswatini is currently faced with in terms of applicants.
He stated that among the applicants, some graduated over 11 years ago. These were from the Shiselweni region, and some who graduated in 2013 are from the Manzini region.
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“These have been staying at home without formal employment, which is a clear indication of how serious the unemployment issue in Eswatini is,” he said.
In terms of the education level, the highest entries received were from applicants who hold bachelor’s degrees in various fields and specialities, followed by master’s degrees, diplomas, and associate degrees and the lowest were from PhD students.
“This alone is an indication that even people who continue to further their studies face unemployment. The median age of applications across the regions in all sectors is 26,” said Shabangu.
He further reported that there is also low absorption of persons living with disabilities, with 0.7 per cent of total applications that have been received.
UNDP Resident Representative Rosie Ssebatindira said they hoped the media could play a vital role in advocating for and sensitising the public about the programme to reach as many graduates as possible.
Ssebatindira stated that benefitting from the network of over 170 countries and territories worldwide, this programme is informed by best practices from these countries.
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“EYEP is composed of a portfolio of solutions with a deliberate concerted effort to create opportunities for the youth,” she said.
She stated that they will also be doing groundwork in ensuring that every graduate in the country knows/ is capacitated about the programme, especially in the regions where the number of applicants is low.
“We are drawing from our experience globally to address the case of youth unemployment in Eswatini, while of course bearing in mind that the country context is different, therefore the programme must meet the need of Eswatini youth,” she said.
She added that the endorsement of the programme by His Majesty King Mswati III and his Cabinet was a significant milestone and further extended appreciation to the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development for spearheading the programme.