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By: Andrew Kathindi

Popular democratic movement (PDM) member of parliament Inna Hengari says that the motion which seeks to discuss and debate the youth unemployment crisis in Namibia must go beyond talks.

Hengari tabled the motion in parliament on Tuesday afternoon, 26 October, and requested that it be referred to a relevant standing committee for further deliberations, nationwide consultations with young people and relevant stakeholders, and reported back to the national assembly.

“The parliament discussion must go beyond discussion. It must give birth to positive change and deliberate action from the government’s side,” Hengari told The Villager.

She said that to keep track of the progress on whether anything was being done, a parliamentary youth caucus should be established to ensure that the policy on youth procurement is implemented when doing oversight.

“The caucus should be there to ensure and track the implementation of our programmes and the motion.”

In her motion, Hengari argued that policy implementation shortfalls, lack of investments in youth-run SMEs, a skewed education system, corruption and its systematic nature have led to high youth unemployment.

The Namibia Labour Force Survey conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency in 2018 found that there was 876,908 youth aged 15 to 34 in Namibia, of which 310,854 (35.4%) were employed 265,770 (30.3%) were unemployed.

“These high rates of youth unemployment represent both widespread personal misfortune for individuals and a lost opportunity for critical national and global economic development.”

The survey further found that 101,776 youth were employed through elementary occupations, including selling goods in streets and public places, guarding buildings, sweeping the streets, emptying garbage etc.

Fifty-seven thousand nine hundred eighteen were service workers, and in-shop and market sales, 38,003 were employed as craft and related trade workers while 24,035.

The Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation (MHETI) reported in 2018 over 67 000 unemployed graduates in the country.

“This number can only be expected to have increased drastically because of the current economic predicament. This is a serious crisis and cause for concern. There is no guarantee at present that a University degree will secure employment for young graduates.”

She argued that the mismatch between the educational structure and the needs of the labour markets is one of the leading causes of unemployment amongst educated Namibians.

She said youth unemployment in Namibia is mainly structural.

“Creating opportunities for rural youth is more urgent than ever. Making rural life and rural jobs more attractive to youth will require tapping into the potential of agricultural value chains and understanding the opportunities and challenges of food and agriculture systems in our country to build a rural economy.”

She further said that to alleviate youth unemployment; the government should establish a youth employment service to place unemployed youth in a minimum of 12-month working experience and training opportunities to develop critical skills.

“More incentives should be provided to the private sector or SMEs to encourage employers to expand quality internship programs, i.e. introduce Learnership Agreements (where a company employs a graduate, the government incentivizes in cash or through a rebate on taxes).”

Julia Heita

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