Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said government is aware of youth unemployment, which she attributes to a lack of skills and access to finance, and has listed an array of interventions to solve the crisis.
The Premier said government continues to apportion a large share of the national budget to the education sector to address the issue of youth unemployment and equip the youth with much-needed skills. This allocation now stands at 28% of the total national budget, and NDP5 is targeting an enrolment of up to 50 000 youth by the year 2022. She also stated that over the past financial year, the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) provided N$209 million for youth-owned enterprises.
“The DBN is also administering a skills-based lending facility for youth between the ages of18 and 35. The programme targets artisans and young professionals in differentfields. It relaxes the normal loan conditions such as equity contribution and collateral,” she noted. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila shared this at the fourth technical vocational and education training (TVET) graduation ceremony for the years 2017 to 2021 held at Rietfontein in the Otjozondjupa region this past weekend.
“To facilitate access into the labour market, the government’s internship policy has been revised to ensure increased opportunities for youth in the public sector. With 2% of the positions in the public service reserved for internships, about 62% of public service positions do not require any prior work experience,” she stated.
“Government has also collaborated with international stakeholders like World Skills International (WSI). Namibia will host World Skills Africa next year to expose our youth to skills competitions and international job opportunities, raise the profile of skills to young people, develop global skills standards, undertake shared research and exchange best practices to promote the value of skills for economic growth and personal success”, she continued. The politician said TVET is a critical provider of skills, knowledge and technology needed to drive productivity in a knowledge-based economy, as it equips young people with work-ready skills, which are useful in addressing the challenges of youth unemployment.
Employees in the ministries of education, defence, safety and health are predominantly youth.
However, Namibia has been having trouble with a high unemployment rate, particularly among the youth. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said there is a huge possibility that the country could reach 50% youth unemployment before the year ends.
The 2018 National Labour Force Survey results point to an increased need to address youth unemployment, which is estimated to have increased from 43% in 2016 to 46% by 2018 for those in the 15 to 34-year age bracket.
To compound the challenges, Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus caused mass retrenchments.
More than 13 683 job losses have been experienced between January 2020 and June 2021.
Statistics provided by the ministry of labour indicate that 12 238 employees were retrenched last year, while 1 444 employees lost their jobs between January and June this year.
Felix Musukubili, commissioner of the National Youth Service (NYS), said the labour ministry facilitated 60 NYS graduates on the National Internship Programme, which lasted for six months from February to July 2021.
The internship scheme has accorded the NYS and other graduates from other training institutions the necessary work-integrated learning exposure required in the real world of work.
“The Social Security Commission funded 45 youths in metal fabrication, agriculture, horticulture and livestock breeding from the 2021 academic year up to the completion of the programmes,” he shared.
Musukubili said TVET training requires funding, and institutions like the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) did not only provide that with regular training programmes, but ensured that the NYS becomes a centre of excellence for improved various trades, particularly farm machinery level four and agriculture, livestock and horticulture production.
The deputy chairperson of the board of directors, Richwell Lukonga, stated that the NYS’s recruitment is based on the equitable demographic representation of Namibian youth from all constituencies of the country. “Programmes are all accredited and recognised by the NTA and the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) up to level three. As per our strategic intent, we are transitioning to higher levels up to level six in our quest to become a centre of excellence for TVET programmes in Namibia”, he added.