Sierra Leone’s Employment and Labour Minister Mohamed Rado Swaray tells International Labour Conference 112th Session about SLPP government’s plans to provide 500,000 jobs for youths


*GENEVA, 11TH JUNE 2024*

Mr. President,
Director General of the ILO,
Excellencies, Ministers, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I bring fraternal greetings from President Julius Maada Bio and the government and people of Sierra Leone. I thank the organisers for the warm welcome and hospitality since our arrival here in Geneva.

We congratulate the ILO for organising the 112th International Labour Conference (ILC) even amidst the global economic and geopolitical security challenges.

We note the Director General’s report on the theme: “Towards a renewed social contract” which foregrounds the nature and impact of trust deficits among governments, citizens, and global and state institutions.

In Sierra Leone, my government has been re-elected to a second five-year mandate with a sharper focus on delivering human capital development, which assures social justice, empowerment, and a better quality of life for citizens. In simple terms, the focus is on feeding the mind, feeding the body, and taking care of the whole of the citizen through free quality education, achieving food sovereignty, and delivering affordable and accessible healthcare.

This sits well within progressive governance reforms, including a Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act — that mandates a 30% legal minimum in representation, participation, and employment for women — and tackling vulnerabilities worsened by the lingering socio-economic impact of the global pandemic and other geopolitical downturns.

Sierra Leone is establishing a Social Protection Agency to coordinate social protection responses and extend social protection to the informal sector in accordance with Convention 102. We thank ILO for their technical support. Furthermore, we are far advanced in implementing a national health insurance scheme that includes persons living with disabilities and other vulnerable demographic groups.

Distinguished colleagues, President Bio has acknowledged our youth bulge as a potential bomb, bane, and boon. However, our focus is on leveraging the dividends of a youthful population. With educational reforms that have increased enrolment, retention, and completion, alongside intensified vocational training, our government has committed to creating 500,000 jobs in the next five years. Working with the ILO, we are currently sourcing funding to implement Phase Two of the Decent Work Country Programme, targeting the creation of 100,000 jobs in the next three years for women, youth, and persons living with disabilities. I call on this august gathering to support our drive, as it helps forestall the global threats of irregular migration.

Excellencies, our government has enhanced tripartism by institutionalising social dialogue to promote inclusive and effective governance, to foster a shared understanding of the challenges faced by employers, workers, and the government, and to provide a forum for the implementation of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and other relevant conventions and recommendations.

Sierra Leone has recently ratified nine conventions and one protocol and also reviewed our obsolete Labour laws in a bid to strengthen the legal framework and protect the rights of workers and employers.

Excellencies, Sierra Leone has migrant workers in many GCC countries and the Middle East. Sierra Leone wishes to add its voice to the global calls for the fair treatment of migrant workers wherever they are.

Let me close by thanking Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo for his effective leadership and guidance as we look forward to working more closely with ILO to collectively address the current and emerging challenges in the world of work.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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