Thursday 17, November 2022 - Aberdeen, Freetown.
By: Juliana Vandy, Strategic Communications Unit - MIC
As the First National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair ever organized in Sierra Leone concludes at the Freetown International Conference Centre Aberdeen Freetown, the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, has revealed that the stage is now set for the first ever National Apprenticeship Programme to commence. The three-day event, which concluded on the 17th of November 2022, brought together over 500 young Sierra Leoneans from across the sixteen districts.
Speaking at the closing of proceedings, the Hon Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said that the National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair (NYEEF) is an event that connects human capital development and the prospect for jobs and commended partners and participants for keeping this momentum for three days, noting that it is normally unusual to keep young people together in a place for three days and with such energy.
Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said that the initiative is part of the broader dynamics of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio’s Human capital development, adding that when the new government was preparing its manifesto, there was a critical focus on human capital development.
“When you talk about human capital development it has various components and various shades such as education in which we are putting 22% of our budget, Health, which we have increased from 6% to 11.7% and food production, for which we have expanded budgetary allocation and are now building strategic relationships to get private sector investment in agriculture.” V.P Juldeh Jalloh explained.
Vice President Jalloh also revealed that the government's investment in the health sector has resulted in the reduction of infant and maternal mortality, and pointed out that the statistics, which stated Sierra Leone had 241, 549 live births in 2021, implies that an average of 240,000 kids are expected to be born in Sierra Leone every year.
He gave assurance that 90 -95% of these children have the opportunity to go to school for free, adding that, government has also extended early childhood learning to the regions, giving equal opportunities to school going children.
VP Jalloh also referred to current enrolment numbers in our universities, which he said stands at about 3000 students. He said that enrolments are not only exploding but graduate turnout is also high, therefore if government wants to do transformative changes for national development, it must think about the young people and how to position them for the job market.
“How we position them is going to define the future development prospects of our country economically, culturally and politically” He affirmed.
He said the National Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Fair is a crystallisation of that vision, which is to expand and build a bridge between government’s investment in human capital development and the opportunity to put young people on a trajectory for decent jobs so that they will be able to reproduce and serve, set up a family and contribute to nation building.
Admonishing the youth, he emphasized that although government increased employment tremendously in the public sector and for the first time increased the wage bill horizontally by recruiting over 10,000 teachers, 6000 health workers and created opportunities for young people to go into farming and expand out-grower schemes for food production, the public sector cannot employ everybody.
He further revealed that President Bio’s government is investing in the productive sector by improving on digitalization, smart infrastructural development and increasing energy access to 34% from 16%, to encourage the establishment and sustainability of private companies. These developments, he said, would result in providing more employment opportunities for young Sierra Leoneans.
VP Jalloh stated that government is going to establish structures at the ministry of labour to be able to track the data statistics and information on all job creation opportunities in this country, adding that Government is also going to create an infrastructure that will be responsible for handling the data of graduates who will apply through the secretariat.
In his conclusion, the Vice President revealed that President Bio has authorised the commencement of a National Internship and Apprenticeship Program, so that most young people would have the requisite working experience from government MDAs and other state-owned enterprises.
” This is just the beginning of the journey” the Vice President Concluded,