Labour laws and private sector employment opportunities

BY: Panom Koryom, RSS, DEC/05/2012, SSN;

The high rate of unemployment in the youngest Nation in the world where literacy may be 20% or so is ridiculous. There has to be a correlation between job market competitiveness and skills supply but this isn’t the case in South Sudan. There seemed to be job market competitiveness and little skills supply, especially for South Sudanese who seemed not to fit the private sector employment requirements.

Before shifting the blame to policies or foreigners whose their characteristics seemed to match private sector job requirements, I want to briefly expound on who’s fit to be called unemployed.

Who is unemployed?
Unemployed person is a job seeker who is actively seeking for the job that matches his credentials or qualifications. However, the person who was seeking for the job but did not get it and therefore gives up that the labor market is not opening up for him/her is not called unemployed but the discouraged person. This means he/she has given up and does not have any interests in the job anymore.

So that means there are two categories of people, the unemployed and the discouraged person, that we have to blame the institutions or policies of not having created employment opportunities. For unemployed person, the Government has to be seen exerting better policies that would create or avail job opportunities in the private sector for unemployed persons to explore. However much job opportunities may be available or created by the Government in the Private sector, there seemed not to be the responsibility of the Government ‘to make the cow drink the water,’ so to say.

However, it might be the responsibility of the Government to educate the public about job market and productivity. People don’t have to stay idle and expect to eat for the food will not put itself into the mouth. You need to fetch water, flour, firewood and do the cooking.

Living in the village is characterized by hard work either; farming, looking after cattle and taking them for water and pastures before you could enjoy the milk and meat. Anywhere and everywhere in the world, there has to be efforts put in to survive. This means that discouraged persons don’t have to give up for if they do that, then they have given up living.

So whose responsibility is this? Both the government and public must respond to each other’s call if we are to make South Sudan a better place to live in or make our people appreciate the fruits of liberation, independence and freedom. The Government, through public services, needless to say, has to make a call and people have got to response. This call has to be enforced by laws like it is done in Jonglei State; calling citizens to pay taxes of 100 SSP per year.

The questions could be: is the Government only interested in collecting taxes? There may be no obligations for citizens to pay taxes if they are not getting any benefits – jobs creation, security, roads, health facilities and any other social benefit – in return. All these are possible only if the law and enforcement mechanism exist.

As the old slogan says: ‘you can take donkey to the river but you can’t make it drink water.’ That slogan is the Government slogan. The Government slogan is that; it can take donkey to the river and make it drink the water. So the river here is job opportunities and people have got to work. They must be made productive or else our blood would have gone in vain.

Do job opportunities exist?
There are plenty of jobs available for nationals in the labor market. The only thing that needs to be done is to create policies that make these jobs opportunities available for citizens. There are some labor sectors where jobs should only be limited to nationals, period.

In Hotel and restaurant industry, waiters and waitress must be South Sudanese. The question of attitude and laziness doesn’t have to arise in the first place. An employment is one of the major conditions or requirement in investment policies and prerequisite before business registration. Investment law clearly entails how citizens are going to benefit from this Hotel/restaurant investment.

Selling food is not a benefit but an act of generating profits for the owners but the benefit to the Nation is employment. These sectors must employ only South Sudanese people of various qualifications. That one has to be a law and it is in the interest of both parties – the government and the investor who needs money (but not to create job for his people in a foreign Country).

Of course, when you are investing in a foreign country, it comes with a cost for training staff who will staff your business. People don’t cook cheese here but you can’t import a cheese chef from abroad either. You have to train somebody here on how to make cheese.

Once that law exists, it is now the private sector that will be soliciting for employees and not employees seeking for jobs, for there will be more demand for labor than supply. And this means even those who are still in the universities would even get jobs before completing their studies.

Each and every business has its own culture and what they ought to do is to create their own brands by training their staff on how to provide the services, how to dress, how to pose, how to walk and so on. There is no way a business person says he doesn’t love South Sudanese but he wants to make more money here in South Sudan.

You either love South Sudanese people and love making more money here or you hate South Sudanese people and therefore quit go invest in a Country that you love its people, period.

Not only in hotel/restaurant industries but also in driving sector, shop attendants sector and NGOs sector where the skills can be sourced within South Sudan, it doesn’t have to be outsourced, and there should be no law that permits that.

Once all these jobs are availed to citizens, the living standard will improve and this comes with responsibilities of paying taxes and therefore more revenues for the Government to provide social benefits without borrowing from anybody else.

So the Government needs to make decisions on this and enforce it. And this finally means there is a relationship between labor laws and private sector employment opportunities.

The writer holds MBA, degree in Procurement & Logistics Management and BA.
He can be reached through mpkoryom@yahoo.com

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