Public service filled with 1 300 foreigners … as scarcity of required skills continue

At a time when unemployment continues to rock the economy with many graduates are in limbo, the Public Service Commission has reported that a scarcity of required skills in “some” technical fields has seen a total of 1 315 foreigners occupying various positions.

As part of the major reasons why these foreigners continue working in Namibia, the Commission pointed to the effect that some are permanent residence permit holders while critical shortages of teachers continue in fields such as foreign languages, sciences, mathematics and biology.

There is also, “shortage and limited qualified Namibians in certain job categories such as libraries, archives, curators’ industries, registered nurses and so on”.

The Commission also said some expatriates are working based on bilateral agreements, while the affordability of Namibian experts is an issue together with an “unwillingness of Namibians to be employed in certain remote areas”.

“In terms of Section 5(1) read in conjunction with Section 18(1) of the Public Service Act, 1995 (Act 13 of 1995), the Commission recommends the appointment of foreigners. There are no foreigners employed in the 14 Regional Councils, while most foreigners are employed in OMAs such as MEAC, MHSS, MJ and MWT. The only ministries with foreigners in their management cadre are MHAI and MJ,” said the Commission’s report.

Meanwhile, on average, 11 918 or 14% of posts are vacant and 75 248 or 86% are filled from a total of 87 164 on approved staff establishments, the report also states.

The major reasons for these vacant posts have been given as due to some being not budgeted for, lack of suitable candidates, lack of qualified/skilled Namibians, budgetary/financial constraints, staff turnover (resignations, ill health, early retirements, death and discharge).

Other reasons are staff movement i.e. promotion and transfers, lack of office space, newly created posts, control measures to reduce the wage bill, lack of resources in rural areas, restricting and ongoing recruitment processes.

The number of public servants has in the meantime increased from 67 835 between 2015/16 to 76 315 with 39% being men and 61% being female between 2016/17

This is a 13% increase representing 8 480 employees. 

The total number of teachers has increased as well from 27 886 between 2015/16 to 28 086 while foreign teachers only stand at 54.