February 12, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The National Youth Commission, with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the Graduate Internship Programme (GIP), yesterday certified 193 graduate interns from Fourah Bay College (FBC), Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), Njala University and Milton Margai College of Education.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony held at Saint Anthony’s Hall on Syke Street in Freetown, Hon. Jolly Magnus Lavalie said the graduation ceremony was a milestone and one that gave hope to the young graduates.
He said the programme serves as a platform where young graduates could access working experience ahead of securing permanent jobs, adding that the latter were expected to make good use of the opportunity.
National General Secretary of the Young Men Christian Association, Christian M. Kamara, said the programme helps youths in the country to be job marketable, although he expressed dismay that a lot of graduates in other fields of study normally find it hard to get internship placements.
He called on other private institutions to come onboard and help provide placement for graduate interns.
Principal Social Development Expert at the African Development Bank, Sandy M. Jambawai, opined that one of the greatest challenges facing Sierra Leone today was the high rate of unemployment amongst the youth, noting that most youth lack skills and capacity, thus making it increasingly difficult for them in the job market.
He maintained that youth unemployment rate in the country was amongst the highest in the West Africa sub-region, at 60%.
He emphasised the need to double up efforts to reduce youth unemployment in view of the fact that idle and unemployed young people were venerable and more likely to be lured into social vices such as drug abuse, pick-pocketing and prostitution.
He said the Africa Development Bank was also aware of the high rate of graduate unemployment in the country, adding that the bank supported a graduate internship programme known as ‘Peace and Development Corp Volunteer’ programme through their social action support project implemented by NaCSA.
He disclosed that the bank was also developing a post-Ebola youth employment and entrepreneurship project.
Deputy Secretary General of the Mano River Union, Mrs. Linda Koroma, said her institution was very much interested in youth empowerment because of past experiences with conflict in the region.
She added that the standard of education dropped as a result of the war in the 90s and early 2000, and that it would be good for young people to access basic education to meet job requirement.
National Youth Commissioner, Anthony Koroma, thanked the United Nations Development Programme and other partners for their support to the Graduate Internship Programme, stating that they have made a lot of progress and now working towards having a National Youth Service.