More than 4100 students will graduate from the country’s two public universities this month, it remains to be seen however if the new graduates will find jobs or whether they will join the thousands unemployed young Namibians hunting for a job with no success.
The discord between the needs of the industry and university products has led to Namibia’s Employer’s Federation, which represents the interests of 285 direct corporate members and 4200 employers, calling for nationwide probe to find a solution to the problem which has resulted in hundreds of graduates sitting at home with their qualifications struggling to find a job.
The University of Namibia (UNAM) is conferring 1300 qualifications to students who completed their studies successfully today, while Namibia of University of Science and Technology(NUST) is due to have its graduation ceremony later this month where 2891 students are expected to graduate.
The 2014 Labour Force Survey indicates that there are at least thousands unemployed young Namibians, with Khomas Region topping the charts.
Namibia Employers Federation secretary general Tim Parkhouse said during an interview with this newspaper that “jobs are not necessarily the problem but rather the lack of qualifications”.
Parkhouse hinted that most of the qualifications held by those who are unemployed are not necessarily the skills needed in the job industry.
He also called for a probe to determine the skills in needed in the industry.
“There is need to conduct a survey in Namibia to determine the jobs which needs to be filled, based on that students can have a clear idea of what the industry needs and choose their education careers based on that as well,” he said.
We need to do a survey, Parkhouse said, adding that: “At the moment we are all guessing what exactly the industry needs.”
According to Parkhouse: “The question is about the qualification that graduates possess…are these the qualifications needed in the labour market? I am not so sure.”
The labour market in Namibia is characterized by a number of serious imbalances, notably between the demand for jobs and the supply of suitable human resources.
Unemployment is therefore one of the most serious problems in Namibia especially among youth. The youth unemployment rate currently stands at 49.8 percent.
The 2014 Labor Force Survey states that youth unemployment is systemic and correlated highly with education levels and gender.
It also reflects location disparities and manifested elements of lack of skills, the survey found.
According to the National Development Plan 4, by 2017 Namibia shall have a functioning, high quality transport infrastructure connected to major local and regional markets as well as linked to the port of Walvis Bay. Local skills have led to state institutions tasked with carrying out this mandate turning to expatriate because of a lack of local skills
The current high unemployment rate among young Namibians is mostly attributed to the low education levels among the economically active population and economic structure (exports of unprocessed primary products).
In Namibia, at least 15 percent of the population have no formal education and more than half of the population (54 percent) have only completed or attained some level of primary education.
Youth unemployment is also exacerbated by skewed state policies that hamper the fight against youth unemployment.
One of these is the re-admission and age limits policy imposed for junior secondary education in Namibia.
Students over the age of 17 who fail grade l0 are not allowed to repeat this level in the formal educational system, but should look for alternative educational institutions, which are often too costly. Secondary education is currently offered for free at state schools.