By Yusufu S. Bangura
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has on Tuesday,March 28, launched the SOS-USA, Canada work-study fair, which provides students the opportunity to study in the United States and Canada.
The launching ceremony took place at the Ministry’s conference room, New England Ville in Freetown.
The work-study is a component of the ministry’s transfer to transform project which was launched in 2021.
Speaking during the launching ceremony, Managing Director of SOS-Global Investment Company, Umaru Jalloh said the company is one of the licensed overseas recruitment agencies in Sierra Leone that offers overseas employment facilities for Sierra Leonean students.
He said they also have a study work program with EduCo for students to do their masters in the United States and Canada.
He continued that the program is a five-year program, but that after the two-year master course, an individual would work for three years for him to pay back the loan, adding that their main role is to provide pre-school scholarship for students.
Jalloh said should someone wants to apply for the master’s program he or she must have the necessary requirement like bachelor’s degree with 3.5 grade point, duolingo test, combined bank statements, submission of transcripts, among others.
He further stated that interested applicants should pay a token of 499.00 USD to be qualified for the program.
He said the program provides opportunity for students to go and study science, technology, engineering and mathematics, adding that this year they have also added sport management into the course for Sierra Leoneans that have the intention to study sport management and multimedia.
“As we are speaking now we have 11 Sierra Leonean students that are currently pursuing their studies in the United States of America, some went to study business analyses, nursing. I want Sierra Leoneans to grab this opportunity that the Ministry of Labour through SOS-Global investment have launched today because it is a one-time facility,” he said.
While launching the program, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Alpha O. Timbo said the mandate of the ministry is to develop and administer Labour and Social Security regulations and policies and maintain cordial industrial relations among operatives in the labour market.
“As a minister, together with my deputy and team we have a responsibility to develop and implement policies and programmes relating to employment creation, promotion of occupational safety and health at work places and provide social security. Part of the mandate of the ministry is to encourage and support labour migration,” he said.
Minister Timbo further stated that one of their core functions is to interview potential non-Sierra Leoneans who intend to come and work in the country, but that they are required to follow the labour laws.
He said for Sierra Leone, labour migration is not a new phenomenon because when he assumed office he witnessed when the labour migration policy was launched, so they had the labour migration policy but that it was not operational because a ban was imposed on people not to go and work overseas.
He said the ban gave Sierra Leoneans reasons to travel illegally and found themselves in various countries where they are faced with several challenges.
He added that after several meetings with the government the ban on labour migration was lifted in 2021, and embarked on the process of instituting the legal framework for them to ensure that they facilitate Sierra Leoneans who intend to work overseas because they are allowing foreigners to come and work in the country.
He further said that after the ban was lifted, the CEO of SOS-Global investment, A.K Ocansey decided to come and assist the ministry by developing systems and structures for them to promote labour migration hence later developed the Transfer to Transform Project.
“The Transfer to Transform Project contains three components and one among them is providing jobs for Sierra Leoneans that fall within the semi-skilled and skill occupation like drivers, carpenters among others. As I speak now, the number of jobs that have been made available for Sierra Leoneans to go and work overseas is more than 10, 000, but we have not completed the framework for us to be able to make more professionally,” he said.
He added that the second component is the work-study program which provides opportunity for Sierra Leoneans who had the necessary qualification, but cannot afford the means to go and pursue their studies because of their financial statues, to travel overseas and study.
He encouraged students to apply for loans which would help them to pursue their master’s up to PHD level.
He continued that the third component has to deal with the diaspora element of labour migration which would give him the opportunity to meet with the Sierra Leone Ambassador to USA to introduce the diaspora element to him because they have Sierra Leoneans in the USA that have completed their programs and still want to further their studies.
“I want to encourage Sierra Leoneans to apply for licensed agencies for them to have access to good jobs. As we launch this company today we now have close to 15 licensed overseas recruitment agencies which we have accepted and registered based on criterial. We have also entered into agreement with several countries for Sierra Leoneans to be allowed to go and do their work,” he said.