Changing work and employment institutions in Mauritius: Challenges for workers, companies and education and training institutions
thesisposted on 12.08.2015, 15:07 by Stephanie Blandine Emilien
This thesis critically explores how changing work and employment institutions have brought about challenges for workers, companies and Education and Training institutions in Mauritius. The study uses a historical institutionalist approach as well as additional concepts to examine how Work and Employment as well as Education and Training institutions of Mauritius, have adjusted to contemporary economic conditions. Recently, Mauritius, a former French and British colony, has diversified its economy and launched its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. The sector has developed in parallel with the government’s endeavour to turn Mauritius into a knowledge economy over time. In order to facilitate the setting up of numerous multinational companies, the country has adopted more flexible employment legislation. As a result, companies have been able to take advantage of the island-nation’s cheap, multi-lingual and youthful labour market. The thesis identifies challenges that have been triggered by the requirement for new skill capacities, and further challenges in the form of risks experienced by young Mauritian workers in their employment relationships. Through a qualitative empirical approach, 75 semi-structured interviews were undertaken with workers, managers, educationists and experts in Mauritius. The study argues that current and forthcoming Education and Training (E&T) Policies face several tensions that the Mauritian government did not anticipate and cannot adequately deal with. Findings show disparities between employers’ expectations of workers’ level of employability and skill capacities on the one hand and actual skill capacities on the other. Tensions also lie between the government and private employers in regard to who is to provide which form of training. Further contradictions are found in the government’s one-sided efforts towards building a ‘high-skill’ workforce while new pillars of the economy, here illustrated by the BPO sector, can be comparatively low-skill. Considering the absence of union organisation and the generally low level of agency among workers, these tensions can have damaging impact upon young Mauritian workers at work and beyond. In conclusion, the study highlights the importance of considering context-specificity in the formulation of E& T policies. It suggests that there is much scope for institutional change in which education systems and policies can be more carefully designed to address new economic and social needs in Mauritius.