Minister Francourt describes Praslin visit as ‘insightful’ |16 November 2020
The Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, Patricia Francourt, continued her series of familiarisation visits to Praslin on Friday.
She was accompanied by the principal secretary for employment, Jules Baker; principal secretary for social affairs, Linda William-Melanie; the special advisor for employment, Veronique Bresson and the acting chief executive of the Agency for Social Protection (ASP), Roma Edmond. The members of National Assembly for Praslin – Churchill Gill (Baie Ste Anne) and Wavel Woodcock (Grand Anse), as well as Doyace Poris, also joined the delegation for the visit.
The ASP office in the Horizon Complex at Baie Ste Anne was the first to be toured. The minister could familiarise herself with the staff, services being offered as well as received a guided tour of the office.
The staff could share their concerns which included the need to deal with difficult customers who sometimes do not fully understand the offices’ functions and procedures.
This was followed by the social services offices in the same complex and the Pension Fund Complex in Grand Anse. The delegation could interact with the small Praslin and La Digue teams comprising a total of 6 staff members. The team thus operates under stressful conditions to be able to meet the case load which is gradually increasing. Changes in the boat schedule between Praslin and La Digue, brought about by Covid-19 is also an issue raised by staff who have to commute between these two islands and find themselves left with fewer hours to cope with their condensed work programme.
The visit ended at the employment office in the Pension Fund Complex where the team of 11 Praslin and La Digue staff met with the delegation. The team welcomed the minister for a tour of their office and discussion about the services on offer and the issues faced by the staff especially now that the employment environment has changed drastically due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They shared that although many people visit their office eager to look for a job, there remains the need for a change of mindset and attitude towards employment.
The members of National Assembly had the opportunity to present certain suggestions of how the ministry can be of better assistance to the inner island offices and staff especially bearing in mind that these offices have specific requirements which often differ from that on Mahé.
At the end of the visit, Minister Francourt shared with us her impression:
“Today was a very insightful visit. When you are in the office and hear how everything comes together it is different from when you actually step out and see for yourself first hand; then it makes complete sense.
“We have heard a lot about decentralisation and I was particularly impressed with the decentralisation of services here on Praslin; it is at its very best! I believe this is the way forward. The social services offices gave me an insight into the landscape of Praslin; just because it is an island does not mean that it is spared from social ills, although not at a high level. But it does display social ills being tackled with limited resources. I could comprehend the link between the social services, the Agency for Social Protection and employment. I am also impressed with the staff’s dedication; they know what they are supposed to do and they are in it to make a difference.”
Minister Francourt also expressed her appreciation for the visible dominance of women in all three agencies visited.
“I was also impressed with the number of strong women who have stepped up and are currently in employment in the offices I visited today. Although the percentage of women job seekers is currently higher than men, I seize this opportunity to call on other unemployed women to come forward and join the various programmes and schemes which are already in place and ready to assist in securing a job. We have the Unemployment Relief Scheme (URS), internship programmes for returning graduates and ‘My First Job Programme.”
At present, there are a total of 322 registered Unemployment Relief Scheme (URS) applicants from Praslin, 241 have already been placed in various jobs while 30 are pending and 51 chose to drop out. 147 applicants are registered on La Digue with 122 already in placement, 23 pending and 2 drop-outs.
The delegation also met a few URS placed staff at the different offices who expressed their appreciation for the programme and their progress so far.
“At the employment office, I met a young lady on our ‘Internship Programme’, a returning graduate with a very positive attitude which is very encouraging. The lady who graduated in business management was particularly targeting the tourism industry but has adapted to the difficult situation being faced by that industry and understands the need to find another temporary placement. This displays a proactive attitude of identifying our needs instead of our wants and seeing the importance of employment,” Minister Francourt said, congratulating Natifa Bedier for her wise pursuit and called on other youth and unemployed individuals to follow this example.
“In the future, we hope to instill in Seychellois the need to explore the various job opportunities out there and re-invent ourselves. We will surely intensify our programmes especially for re-skilling and re-training and developing new expertise. However, we call on all employers for their support for placement and we call on employees to have a change of attitude and mindset towards employment. The focus should no longer be on the job I want to have but rather the job I need. Let us not be complacent with the job we usually do but let us step out of our comfort zones and move forward with the job which is now a necessity.”
The accompanying photos show some highlights of Minister Francourt’s visit on Praslin.
Text: Nadia Bedier
Photos: Romano Laurence