The 10-month internship for graduates is a giant step towards addressing massive unemployment in the country.
Most youthful Malawians graduating from various universities are wasting valuable time playing bawo, drinking liquor and abusing drugs because they have no job.
Institutions that should have offered them job opportunities shun fresh graduates due to financial stress or lack of experience. Most of them opt for veterans with vast experience.
The State-funded internship programme offers the youth a rare opportunity to gain experience and to fill massive vacancies in government agencies. With this experience, we hope it will be easier for the interns to clinch jobs in companies and organisations.
However, there are several areas that need to improve for the programme to run smoothly.
One of the areas that need to improve is the involvement of hosting departments and agencies in the execution of the programme as well as the monthly allowances or honoraria for the interns.
I have some problems with the K80 000 allowance on offer. By the way, who proposed the K80 000 as a right pay for a degree holder doing the job in a vacant office where the rightful officer would have been earning more?
We are reducing fresh graduates to messengers instead of motivating them by giving them pay that matches their qualification. The amount is a pittance.
I am not comfortable with the exclusion of the host institutions. They have been left out of the programme. Government sends the allowances directly to the interns’ bank accounts.
How would the government, through the Department of Labour and Manpower Development, know if the interns are still reporting for work?
I wish government channeled the funds to the host agencies to pay the interns. This would also cut the red-tape slowing down remittance of monthly payments to the interns.
Some interns have been omitted from the payroll and others have not received their allowances for September and October.
These delays would have been easily dealt with if government had allowed its agencies to pay the interns they monitor on daily basis. This would also reduce absenteeism.
It appears that the institutions have also not been engaged thoroughly on how they should involve the interns in daily activities.
Most interns are complaining that they are not being involved. The youth continue playing bawo on the verandas of the offices. I wish government had invited agencies and departments for orientation on ways to make the programme a win-win arrangement. The orientation would also assure the existing workforce in the host organisations that the interns are not there to grab their jobs, but to learn.
Apparently, there is lack of zeal to involve the interns in some agencies. This is partly because of fear among some staff that the fresh graduates will eventually snatch their jobs. This is not the case.
Since they are afraid of losing their jobs to the interns, some civil servants are not transferring job skills to the fresh graduates.
In the process, some agencies and departments have no direct influence on the interns because they are not contributing anything to the centralised programme or interns.
I wish the host institutions were contributing something to the interns, including a little allowance for interns’ transport and lunch on top of the stipends from government.
In such a setting, the agencies would feel responsible for the interns and the youth on on-the-job training will feel responsible in their workplace. They would start reporting for duties on time.
Otherwise, despite all the glaring shortfalls, the national internship programme is an excellent intervention by the government that should continue for generations.