Thursday 17 June 2021
  • :
  • :

So many graduates, yet few jobs

With the number of unemployed graduates projected to soar in the coming years, Namibian Employers’ Federation Secretary General Tim Parkhouse says Namibia skills mismatch is the single biggest cause for the high number of unemployed graduates.
The current economic slump makes the situation worse because employers have closed their doors in an attempt to contain costs.
Parkhouse said there seems to be a mismatch between what the institutions of higher learning offer versus the needs of the job market.
Subsequently, said Parkhouse, too many qualified people work in the wrong fields and a mass number of unemployed graduates cannot find jobs. He said the country seem to be ignorant about what it needs.
“One of the biggest issues we face is the skills mismatch, not only in Namibia but across Africa. At a Conference on Jobs for Africa held in Addis Ababa last year, we were told that 90% of graduates in Africa study the social sciences and only 4% engineering. What have Namibian graduates studied? The other issue on this is that we don’t really know what we need in the jobs market in Namibia. More importantly, we don’t know what we might need in two to five years’ time,” said Parkhouse.
Currently, Namibia has 67,000 unemployed graduates hoping to get a job in the field they studied for. This was revealed by the deputy director in the Ministry of Higher Education Training and Innovation, Nhlanhla Lupahla, during a public dialogue on perspectives of unemployed graduates earlier this year.
“One of the issues now is that historically today’s young people have been taught, ‘make sure you get to varsity, get a degree, and you will be ok.’ Unfortunately, our economy did not keep up and in many instances, parents were not able to give informed advice and guidance to their children – nor did the schools,” said Parkhouse adding that career guidance should start at grade 10.
“If we can improve that guidance together with an improved LMIS, we will go a long way to reducing the skills mismatch.”
The current economic status has seen a number of entities tighten their belts if not close shop, this subsequently means the employment trends have experienced headwinds and can only take in a minimum number from a pool of gradates.
“Another contributing factor to the unemployed graduates currently is the downturn in the economy. Currently employers are thinking three times before employing a new staff member, and that goes to interns as well and not just permanent staff,” said Parkhouse.
The Namibian Employers’ Federation has been vocal in calling for companies to take in interns and to offer job attachments.
In collaboration with the Namibian Training Authority, the federation set up a formal apprenticeships program that entered approximately 290 around the country.
“We will continue with this and while it is a small number they will be encouraged to start their own businesses and employ other people, as opposed to just looking for a job. Thus, young people must think in terms of vocational development and not just varsity.”
If no solutions to youth unemployment and graduates specifically are devised, that would mean that the number of unemployed graduates will increase by a couple of thousands.
The Namibian University of Science and technology will graduate at least 2000 students today which will result in these new graduates joining an existing list of irked graduates who say they are frustrated to see their ambitions shattered because it is virtually impossible to find employment in Namibia. These numbers are inclusive of graduates who study abroad funded by government and still cannot find jobs.
Through engagements with the Affirmative Repositioning on unemployed graduates, government has vowed to create 3000 jobs that will be budgeted for in the following financial term, a positive stance according to Dimbulukeni Nauyoma.
“The reality at the moment is very sad. Private sector is not hiring at the rate they were hiring in the past. You find a law firm that only hires one or two people per year versus hundreds who graduated. There are still opportunities but not as many as it used to be. Everyone is cautious about hiring because of the economic status quo,” said Nauyoma.
Nauyoma added that although some graduates have been pushed into self-employment ventures such as poultry farming, it is up to the graduates to engage government on how they can assist.
“The cake is big but the share of us getting it is limited. People must venture into alternatives of entrepreneurship. The current economic status quo requires us to start thinking like Zimbabweans from the get-go. Laziness will not yield us anything.”
International University of Management’s vice Chancellor Professor Kingo Mchombu shared the same sentiments saying students need to be grounded with entrepreneurial skills such that in an event they do not get the office job they wanted, they should become job creators.
Besides programs such as nursing and education where graduates secure jobs even before graduation, Mchombu said the economic situation is bleak, not only in Namibia but the region at large.
“In Namibia we hampered by the fact that our industrial base is not very broad. People are dependent on government to provide them with jobs. But of course government is to some extend saturated now.
And a lot of people who are there are young people who will not retire any time soon. So we need to create new jobs or look at other sectors that still have vacancies such as health and get them to become job creators,” said Mchombu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *