An education system that does not meet the demands of the labour market, poor coordination of the institutional framework and historically structural weaknesses of the economy are among issues contributing to high youth unemployment in the country.
To this, government has been advised to offer free technical and vocational training (TVET) education and set up more technical education institutions to scale up the technical skills base for youth self-employability.
“Government must provide grant support to students upon graduation from TVET colleges in forms of free or subsidised tool kits, credit and any other targeted means for start-up individually or in groups as youth cooperatives,” a targeted review report on youth unemployment in Namibia by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), officially launched by Vice President Nangolo Mbumba at the State House yesterday, revealed.
Government currently only provides free primary and secondary education.
To curb high youth unemployment in the country, government has been advised to put in place legislation on procurement and local content, with provisions of 30% of procurement quotas reserved for youth micro, small and medium enterprises in government.
“The government should review the current green scheme and small-scale farmer’s programme that has not been successfully administered - and based on the findings, develop an appropriate plan to be implemented for the creation of youth employment,” the report reads.
The report advised structural transformation of the economy and implementation of comprehensive measures to tackle youth unemployment within an overall development framework in which the state plays a direct role.
One of the most specific and immediate targeted interventions the government is advised to embark on is to establish a youth programme coordination and implementation unit under the Presidency.
“Such a unit should have the appropriate convening power, political authority and gravitas under the Presidency to consolidate the funding across ministries and government agencies,” recommended the report.
It further recommends the unit must develop an information support system and database that will provide information on the composition and specificities of youth segments and groups in the country at national, regional, urban and rural levels.
It also recommended communicating government information on existing youth initiatives and programmes on existing youth initiatives and programmes, shared onto appropriate platforms at national and regional levels in a transparent and accountable manner.
Another serious recommendation was to reform the education system through reviewing the curriculum for technical and entrepreneurship subjects to be offered throughout the education systems.
“…establishing specialised schools that will do talent spotting, coaching, mentoring and training in creative, artistic and sports field as a pathway for those youth who are not academically gifted,” states the report.
The report further advises the government to review the compelling legislation based on targeted tax incentives for the private sector to collaborate on robust internships along the lines of the mobile telecommunication company (MTC) internship programme to scale up mentorship for preparation for employment in the labour market.
It was further recommended the government must reward the youth innovators who propose information and communication technologies-based agriculture solutions with targeted funding to lure them into the agricultural sector, thereby creating employment.
Government estimates over 67 000 graduates are unemployed in the country.
While launching the report, Mbumba indicated the report’s recommendation, such as an appropriate institutional framework is established, will properly coordinate, monitor and evaluate all employment initiatives – with a focus on youth.
He added Cabinet has directed the National Planning Commission (NPC) to spearhead the mainstreaming of the national plan of action on youth employment into national development plans and strategies for operationalisation by the youth ministry, while the international relations ministry will be responsible for popularising it across the continent.
“It cannot be overemphasised that the growth potential of Namibia and the continent can only be developed through the inclusion of young people into the policymaking mainstream and economic recovery efforts, said Mbumba.
Youthful parliamentarians who witnessed the launch applauded the report, saying youth unemployment is a national issue that needs the involvement of public and private sector partnerships as well as civil society.
Popular Democratic Movement’s Inna Hengari, who recently tabled a motion in the National Assembly in September to debate the youth unemployment dilemma in Namibia as well as its ramifications in the short, medium and long term, applauded the report, saying youth unemployment is a national issue that needs more effort from all stakeholders.
Swapo’s Patience Masua said the report comes at an opportune moment, as the government is shifting into high gear to advance the targets set forth under the economic advancement pillar of the Harambee Prosperity Plan Two.
“We must, therefore, progress our policy intervention based on research that can give us a scientific synthesis of the challenges we face and formulate solutions which are informed by established benchmarking and proven interventions,” she said.
Information deputy minister Emma Theofelus emphasised it is a good opportunity for the country to know where to accelerate.
“We have the motion on the youth unemployment in parliament where I will contribute to see how the legislators can help to eliminate youth unemployment in the country,” she said.
The United Nations estimates that by the end of this year, Namibia is expected to reach 50.3% of youth unemployment.