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Politique of Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Source: cameroonpostline.com

Gov’t ‘finds’ 250,000 jobs for youths

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After the last contentious programme to recruit 25,000 youths into the public sector, the Cameroon Government has launched another controversial programme through the National Employment Fund, NEF, to seek a total of 250,0000 temporary jobs for youths in the private sector, before the end of 2015. The youths will be jointly paid by the State of Cameroon and the different companies in which they will work.

The youths to be recruited under this special programme will be given temporal jobs for a duration of two years. At the end of the two-year period put in by each of the youths, the management of the different companies in which they served will reserve the right to decide whether to grant the youth permanent employment, or send the person back into the streets.

The programme to seek the 250,000 job opportunities was officially launched at a meeting organised in Douala on April 16, by the Cameroon Chamber of Commerce. The meeting brought together senior officials of the NEF and General Managers of major companies. The official unemployment rate in the nation’s economic capital, Douala, is 27 percent, though observers think it is higher.

On The Job Training

Formally presenting the Government’s special programme to seek jobs for youths, the General Manager of the NEF, Camille Monthe Bidias, said the programme is another testimony of the relentless efforts by the Government to reduce unemployment among the Cameroonian youths. He stated that one of the major objectives of the Government in the temporary recruitment programme that was being launched, is to offer the 250,000 Cameroonian youths being targeted an opportunity for on-the-job training.

He remarked that at meetings between the public and private sectors on matters of unemployment, employers in the private sector often complain that the type of education (General Education) that many Cameroonian youths acquire does not make them suitable for recruitment by many companies in the country. He disclosed that statistics show that some 44,000 Cameroonian youths graduate from universities and other institutions of higher learning in the country each year, and that less that one-fifth succeed to get jobs within the first year after their graduation.

Monthe Bidias said the wish of the Government is that companies that will offer the 250,000 youths jobs under the special programme will, at the end of the two-year period, offer most of them permanent employment. He argued that even those youths who will not be offered permanent employment will not be losers, as they will be better prepared for the job market, having had on-the-job training and working experience.

Different Categories And Pay Packages The General Manager of the NEF also disclosed that official letters have already been sent by the institution to different companies across the country, which the Government is inviting to be part of the partnership with the State of Cameroon in the special recruitment programme. He disclosed that his institution has already received positive responses from a few companies. He, however, said that a bulk of the companies contacted, so far, are still to reply to the requests.

It is the NEF that will handle the selection of the youths to be sent to different companies for the jobs.

Monthe Bidias said the youths will be offered employment in three categories: holders of 1st Degree or equivalent, holders of GCE A/L, BAC or equivalents, and holders GCE O/L, BEPC or equivalents. There will be flat salaries for the different categories. All 1st Degree holders will earn a monthly salary of FCFA 150.000, A/L holders will earn FCFA 75.000, and O/L holders will earn FCFA 50.000 a month.

The State of Cameroon will contribute 50 percent of the amount for monthly salaries, while the companies will chip in the remaining 50 percent. It is, however, not clear as to whether it is the State or the different companies that will handle the payment of salaries to the youths at the end of each month.

Meanwhile, besides the net salary, the different companies that offer jobs under the special programme will also have an obligation to add to the monthly pay package of each and every worker, a sum of money for transport.

Strong Criticisms By Economic Operators Despite the optimism expressed by officials of the NEF, most of the economic operators or General Managers of companies who attended April 16 meeting in Douala, heavily criticised the Government initiated programme as well as certain Government policies.

The GMs, for example, asked what type of feasibility study was carried out before the adoption of the so called special programme to seek temporary jobs for 250,0000 youths.

Another issue about the special programme, was the lack of sensitisation or publicity. They remarked that, unlike the previous Government programme to recruit 25,000 youths which was widely publicised, there had been no publicity about the new employment programme.

Yet, they remarked that the two- year programme is well underway, having started early this year. This thus led the General Managers to also question how transparent the programme is.

They raised several questions about the criteria that are being used by the NEF to select the youths in the three different categories, who are sent to companies for recruitment under the special recruitment programme.

Tribalism And Corruption

The GM of enterprises who attended the meeting observed that they would have preferred a system where the final selection of the youths for recruitment under the special programme is left to the managements of the different companies. The managers expressed concern that some civil servants, top personalities and politicians might interfere with the selection exercises.

They said that the typical civil service mentality in Cameroon where ills like tribalism, nepotism and corruption often influence the recruitment of workers into the public sector might mar the special programme. They said companies might find themselves being intimidated into recruiting family members and girlfriends of some civil servants or politicians, or to recruit some youths from whom money has been extorted by some unscrupulous civil servants.

The General Managers argued that the general tendency is that youths that get jobs through unorthodox means are often nonchalant in their attitude, and are less productive. They said such youths are only interested in getting their salaries at the end of the month.

One of the conditions that were posed by the General Managers to the officials of the NEF at the meeting, was that the institution should present a guarantee to companies, that the youths to be selected are of good character, are youths who are prepared to submit to in-house codes of discipline of the different companies, and are prepared to work hard to make a plus to the productivity of the companies.

Poor Business Climate

But, above all, the managers of companies at the April 16 meeting minced no words that they did not see the Government’s special programme making great success. The economic operators reiterated their deep interest to create several job opportunities for Cameroonian youths. But they put culpability for the low job opportunities in the private sector in Cameroon, to several Government policies that are unfriendly to businesses.

The General Managers reiterated that associations of economic operators in Cameroon like GICAM, ECAM and MECAM, have, on several occasions, repeatedly make it clear to Government, that the best way to enable the private sector to be able to create several job opportunities, is to create a good business environment in the country.

They asserted that such a policy will not only attract many local and foreign investors, but will also greatly enable existing companies to be able to expand. The managers argued that once a new company is created or an existing company expands, it is just normal that new job opportunities will be created.

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