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Workshop on “Broadening Employment Opportunities in the Post COVID Era”

The Government reiterates its commitment to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic while enhancing employment opportunities

In a bid to address labor market issues and rethink employment policies and strategies, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development in collaboration with the Economic Development Board hosted a consultative workshop themed ‘Broadening Employment Opportunities in the Post COVID Era’ this morning, Tuesday 15th September 2020 at the Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Tower, Cybercity Ebene.

The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr. The Honourable Renganaden Padayachy and the Minister of Labour, Human Resource Development and Training, Honourable Soodesh Callichurn graced the opening ceremony by their presence as keynote speakers.  The workshop saw the participation of more than 125 representatives of the public and private sectors as well as NGOs, academia, students and trade unions. 

In his keynote address, the Minister of Finance provided an overview of the economy amidst an uncertain economic backdrop marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister emphasized that the pandemic has caused a severe economic contraction of 13% in 2020.

He also underlined that since the onset of the pandemic, a series of proactive initiatives and bold budgetary measures have been undertaken by the Government to safeguard jobs, preserve the livelihood of vulnerable families, and assist businesses.

The Minister also highlighted that the Government has provided MUR 180 billion to safeguard jobs, of which a total of MUR 104 billion has been provided to assist productive sectors such as manufacturing, tourism, and the agro-industry, MUR 40 billion for the construction industry and MUR 30 billion for the health and education sectors.

Moreover, to cushion the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, the Government has disbursed MUR 12 billion for the salaries of 40 000 employees.  To provide a new impetus to the manufacturing industry, the Wage Assistance Scheme, the DBM support scheme and the investment support programme have been introduced.

The Minister also added that the banking sector is a cornerstone to maintain the financial stability of the country and, in this regard, the Bank of Mauritius (BOM) has implemented the COVID-19 Support Programme to preserve and safeguard employment.  He also pointed out that the Mauritius Investment Company has been set up under the aegis of the BOM with a contribution of MUR 80 billion to assist distressed businesses.

To further mitigate the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister has commended the efforts of all institutions.  On the other hand, Dr. Padayachy indicated that the unemployment figure was 41, 300 in March and reached 45, 300 in June.  To this end, he reiterated that the Government would ensure that the unemployment figure of 100, 000 will not be attained in the wake of COVID-19 and emphasized that the ‘Plan de Relance’ with an earmarked capital of MUR 100 billion is to protect and safeguard jobs. 

The Minister concluded that all the measures implemented reflect the Government’s commitment to overcome the daunting challenges posed by the pandemic and that the success of the country will depend on the continued collaboration between Government, the business community and civil society.

Click here to download the speech delivered by Dr. the Honourable Renganaden Padayachy, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.

On the other hand, Honourable Soodesh Callichurn, Minister of Labour, Human Resource Development and Training stressed the importance of organizing this workshop to define decisive actions on policies & strategies pertaining to the labour market amid the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment.  He expressed the Government's determination to formulate concrete actions with a view to promote employability of the local workforce, rethink the employment strategies amid impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the youth and women.  He has also highlighted that the Government is working on a new approach for migrant workforce.  The Minister underlined that the upward trend in unemployment should trigger debate on roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder. Moreover, he underscored that since 2014, 57, 000 youngsters have been trained by the MITD in several fields of activities.  He added that the Government aims at enhancing the employability of women and the youth through schemes such as the Youth Employment Scheme (YEP), Service to Mauritius Programme and the Back to Work Programme. 

To pursue the employability skills agenda, the Ministry of Labour, Human Resource Development & Training will be setting up a National Employment Department and the National Advisory Committee.

The Minister has concluded by inviting all participants to contribute valuable propositions to pave the way forward.

The workshop also comprised round table discussions focused on the following themes:

  • Women and Employment
  • Youth aspirations and new challenges
  • Entrepreneurship as a catalyst for employment
  • Role of SMEs and cooperatives in driving employment
  • Conciliating training/ education needs with the new job market
  • Labour Legislative Reforms
  • Work-life balance- A new working normal in the post COVID-19 era

The event served as a unique platform to boost dialogue with stakeholders. The highly interactive round table sessions comprising insightful discussions will be translated into a full-fledged report which will be submitted to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development and the Ministry of Labour, Human Resource Development & Training for further discussions.