Timor-Leste priest criticizes unemployment record

Lack of government planning and wrong focus in education is seeing number of jobless rise, he says
Timor-Leste priest criticizes unemployment record

Youths sit for a final exam at the end of a computer course at a church-run training center in Dili. (Photo by Thomas Ora)


The director of the youth commission for Dili Diocese has criticized the Timor-Leste government for not doing enough to curb unemployment.

"Unemployment increases but the government does not create any [plan] to reduce it," Father Joao Soares ucanews.com on July 13, responding to a recent government report on Timor-Leste's high unemployment rate.

The Secretary of State for Vocational Training Policy and Employment reported that the unemployment rate across the country has hit 11 percent because of limited job opportunities and the number of young people looking for work keeps growing.

The church has stepped in to help by offering skills training for youths, but it does not promise job opportunities, only training, Father Soares said.

"The government must create work opportunities," said the priest, adding that the church wants young people not to depend on government handouts.

According to the priest, massive urbanization and migration to Dili has neglected the huge potential for work in the agricultural sector."Districts need more people to work in agriculture, but people come to Dili instead," he said.

The church has voiced concerns and solutions through seminars and in discussions with the government, added Father Soares.

The church has also offered help through several training centers in Dili to give youths skills in automotive, construction, carpentry, electricity, welding, and plumbing.

Meanwhile, Orlando da Silva Casamiro, 25, coordinator of the diocese training center said that unemployment in Timor-Leste is so acute that even university graduates do not have jobs.

 "It is because the education system focuses merely on theory, not on creating graduates ready to work," said Casamiro who previously worked for a Japanese non-profit group.

 "Competition in the era of globalization requires skills, not only classroom theory," he told ucanews.com.

To meet such needs, the church centers also train youths in different areas such as language skills — particularly English and Portuguese, computer and IT.

Last year it accepted 200 people and another 283 people are attending this year. Courses are run over three periods in a year.

Martinha Gaviota Martins Gomes, 19, who is taking a computer class at the center said that one of problems he faces is that the government prefers to employer older and unskilled workers.

"The government should hire younger people who have better skills," she said.

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