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Other Articles from The Villager

The skilled worker problem

Fri, 30 June 2017 15:37
by Chris-Paul
Columns

The issue of unemployment has become a mainstay in people’s discussions because it continues to be a big problem in this country, but a long with it, comes an education and skilled worker problem.

 Over the years, there have been hundreds of jobs around the country with good companies offering good pay and benefits that has ended up in the hands of expatriates because the biggest problem for these potential employers is a lack of skilled or properly educated workers among the locals.

 It really is the lack of skilled workers that is making the employment figures look so frightening. Recent figures are showing that the number of potential jobs in Namibia has been on a decrease, and another saddening fact is that the new hire rates are dropping.

Why? I read somewhere recently that the construction industry in the country is damn near the opposite end of booming, but even when it was healthy many companies and individual contractors couldn’t get skilled workers to fill much-needed key positions. Over the years we have lost millions and millions of dollars annually in potential economic growth due to a lack of skilled workers in many job sectors.

I know that the President is working to resolve the skilled worker shortage by reviewing, and potentially, introducing several onerous regulations that will allow the increase and flourishing of private colleges that can potentially offer degrees for specific jobs that lead to careers in engineering, computer networking, the broader technology industry,  nursing, healthcare administration and others.

The immediate future does not look promising either due to budget cuts, but it’s not all doom and gloom. What we need is policies that will help with implementation of more private colleges and universities in Namibia. We have seen some forces trying to turn students against managements of educational institutions by deliberately making misleading accusations. 

These dishonest allegations, coupled with bad policy regulations from the offices at Government Park in Windhoek, were orchestrated with the main goal of disrupting our education system by mobilizing students to turn against their own institutions and subsequently government. What Namibia badly needs is skilled workers who graduate from public and private colleges with degrees that lead to good paying jobs and successful careers.

Privately run colleges and universities fill an important void by producing qualified workers who can apply for jobs with the specific training and instruction needed to be successful. The President’s plan to boast the job market and the economy along with the line minister’s leadership are much needed first steps, but parliament need to act as well.

Once the ministry of higher education comes forward with reform priorities, parliament should move to pass new laws to strengthen private education and help fill our skilled worker void. With the help of parliament, private colleges and universities can bring an end to a skilled worker shortage that is hampering our economic recovery and limiting our nation’s ability to compete in a global market.

The amount of damage caused in the years of looting of this country by the corrupt elites is like a metastasising cancer. It spread throughout every aspect of our system of governance from our economy, healthcare, and others. In that aspect Namibia, like many other African countries, along with independence, democracy and self-determination became problems.

There is poverty, exploitation and massive capital flight on the continent. Post slavery Africans were more consolidated, they were more together than ever and anyone with a GCSE level understanding of history knows this.  Because of things like segregation and apartheid, Africans got the necessity to maintain some type of cohesion with one another even though there were infightings.

Though there were a lot of problems within their communities, mostly brought about by the invaders, they still had the self-interest and the collective interest. But now in the times of independence, self-determination and democracy, we are plagued with massive unemployment, exploitation and poverty and we because we don’t know who the real enemy is. 

The reason why people that control the world are where they are today is because of the knowledge they have. People who control the world have the monopoly on the knowledge, and knowledge in itself is power, be it military or economically, that’s power. 

They understand how the economy works; they have control over our history and even systems of education. The biggest way those who rule the world have managed to keep others at the bottom was through the monopolization of knowledge. They knew what to hide from others and what not to. They understand propaganda better.

It’s the knowledge that keeps them in power, it’s a bad application of knowledge but it’s still knowledge. The knowledge of how to manipulate human beings, to market particular ideas and how to shut out other people out of the economy and even the knowledge of warfare. The knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons is what keeps some countries in power; make them able to bully whoever they want whenever they want in the world.

Their knowledge is at the root of their power not just the aggression. They could have as aggressive as they want but without the knowledge to make weapons they’d be just be like a toothless dog.  That’s why Europeans damn near got away with this idea that they invented writing or it was invented by a certain group of people, which is absolutely ridiculous.

Writing is a form of expression that all groups of human beings have pioneered in some way. With that said the issue of improving our knowledge will solve more than just our unemployment problem. As the youths of this country, what we need to stop is being lazy and whiny babies waiting to be wheel chaired into a job or wait until a project is wheel-barrowed into our laps. Another problem is that companies in Namibia hardly view themselves as responsible for addressing their own need for skilled workers, if anything; they appear to be resigned about fixing the situation.

We also see that some companies look at hiring a full-time employee as a solution of last resort.  Our politicians too, as much as they have expressed frustration over the social consequences of our job system shortcomings, many of them put forward solutions to improve, rather than reform these highly ineffective programs. 

For instance the proposal to make high school education free in our country seems to suggest that that tuition is a major hindrance to matriculation, when the biggest barriers to degree completion are living standards, with accommodation and transportation featuring prominently. What I’m trying to say that in order to make real impact, instead of working at cross purposes groups such as educational institutions, corporate businesses and government can help build a better system if they work together and strengthen each other’s efforts.

 A business’ ability to compete centres around its ability to attract and keep motivated workers, that’s why there is a need for every business to realize that the current system’s shortcomings will only be overcome if they accept leadership of the system. It is imperative that companies extend the same onerous management principles they apply in the business to their talent pipelines. Needlessly to say, the price of investing hugely in cultivation is justified if companies compare it to the true costs of an ongoing skills fissure.

 For those of us who spend a great deal of time on social network engaging and analysing the dialogue that goes on there,  one can’t help but note that there is a significant number of youths not only showing an unprecedented interest in the politics of the day, but seem prepared to offer suggestions with regards to finding solutions.

It is refreshing to see that a good number of the younger generation is refusing to be blinded by those hell-bent at derailing their progress, some of who are prepared to tackle the difficult issues without preconditions. However, one can easily be deeply disturbed by the misguided anger and disrespect displayed by the less informed and willing tools of those trying to propagate negative energy around the administration, more so often using the issue of unemployment.

Those who are so blinded by misguided bitterness that they can’t see the progress government has made since government is working his fingers to bones to solve this problem, what many failed to understand however is that complete eradication of social and economic inequalities will take generations to achieve. The elimination of the inherited wealth gap that was primarily based on, above other things, race is not an overnight night fight.

The driving force in achieving our targeted emancipation from inherited independence is expecting the unemployment rates to hit record lows in this time of economic difficulty. This is usually necessitated by two things either they are so delusional they confused themselves or just have a big commitment to derail our progress. 

The volume of anger and frustration expressed is so misguided, but you can’t just walk to unemployed youths to calm them down and tell them to look at the bigger picture.  The vast division and wealth gap in our society is a legacy of apartheid. The failure to implement substantive measures of redress contributes to this chaos, but thankfully for a country like Namibia, unlike many African countries, we have in this country a President who will not tolerate the corrupt and greedy.