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Parliament Committee to Consult on Youth Unemployment

By: Justicia Shipena

The National Assembly has agreed to a motion by PDM member of parliament Inna Hengari on youth unemployment.

National Assembly deputy speaker Loide Kasingo referred the motion to a parliamentary standing. Nationwide consultations with young people, civil society organisations and experts are now set to take place.

“I now put the questions that the motion be referred to the relevant parliamentary standing committee for further scrutiny and bring back feedback. Any objects?” questioned Kasingo.

However, the August house did not have any objections to it. “Agreed,” Kasingo banged her gavel.

Last year Hengari revealed that Namibia is ranked in the top three African countries with the highest youth unemployment in the world, alongside South Africa and Nigeria.

Hengari then tabled a motion on youth unemployment in October.

Speaking to The Villager on Friday, Hengari said it is progress in the right direction. “We still need to do so much more for young people. Parliament’s process seems to be lengthy, but I think it is worth it,” she said.

She also welcomed parliament’s decision expressing excitement for the journey ahead. “We will be here to ensure that the process is done correctly and brought to a conclusion so that parliament can finally pass a document. In essence, a blueprint that will guide lawmaking,” she added.

“The road looks very positive, and I think young people would be able to benefit from this. We don’t want people to just be paying lip service; we want action and change now.”

By the end of 2018, youth roaming the streets without a job represented 36 per cent. Last year reports estimated that Namibia reached 50.3 per cent of youth unemployment.

According to basic economic fundamentals, youth employment is a crucial indicator of a country’s development and determines how fast an economy grows.

These fundamentals state that when a nation’s youth are focused on economic development, that particular nation is more likely to achieve its development goals.

During her debates on the matter in parliament, Hengari moved that the August House debate the youth unemployment dilemma in Namibia.

Her motion also sought for a state of emergency to be declared by President Hage Geingob to address the youth unemployment crisis.

Labour expert Herbert Jauch says the consultations should not be a public relations exercise, adding that it has been long overdue.

“We then not again have a declaration or plan that is not translated into reality. My hope is that it would go beyond talking,” he said.

Jauch added that if Namibia admits to the unemployment crisis, then change will occur.

“It is very important that when they do the consultations, the proposals are taken seriously and implemented; otherwise, it is a waste of time and resources.”

In 2016, 62 per cent of the working-age adults in the country were between the ages of 15 and 34, broadly defined as youth.

According to recent projections, the number of 15 to 24-year-olds will have doubled by 2045.

Statistics before Covid-19 hit Namibia showed that the overall unemployment rate was around 34 per cent. Of these, close to 50 per cent were young people.

In the motion by hengari recommendations to help curb youth unemployment, the government needs to, among others, provide more incentives to the private sector or SMEs to encourage employers to expand quality internship programmes.

It also addressed that there is a need to introduce learnership agreements (where a company employs a graduate, the government incentivises in cash or through a rebate on taxes).

At the time, she urged a review of current entrepreneurship and business modules in schools and to offer financial literacy from an early age.

Justicia Shipena

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