There has been a lot of complaints about youth unemployment in Namibia and it has become a widely talked about issue. The unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force.
According to the “Status of the Namibian Economy’’ document, Namibia’s labour market looks more vulnerable with unemployment increasing over the years and employment decreasing. The working age population has increased by 55 593 new entrants into the labour market. A significant share of the youth population is unemployed at 43.4 percent (aged 15-34 years), which is an increase of 4.4 percent from 2014, and almost 12% difference between males and females.
The youth are heavily affected by this as they are the most in the country and are considered the leaders of tomorrow. But as much as we are crying for many unemployed youths in Namibia, and trying to come up with new ways of creating jobs, we ought to be proud of the fact that there are Namibian youths abroad that are working day in and day out to make a living and more importantly to represent the country. Paheja Siririka caught up with the ever talented and smart Luise Johannes who is in the field of science and is currently resident at Coralville, Iowa in the United States of America (USA) where she is employed by Integrated DNA Technologies as a purification scientist for three months now.
What took you there in the first place?
I initially came to the US to pursue my bachelor’s degree in biology, which I completed last May. Prior to graduation, I decided on the idea of staying and landing a job in the US for a number of reasons. In the end, the decision to stay was heavily influenced by the fact that I plan to pursue my graduate school here in the US and so it made sense to stay until then.
What is the biggest challenge of working in a foreign country as a Namibian?
Being here for more than six years now, I have generally adapted very well to a lot of challenges that foreigners may face in a new country. I am also lucky that my current workplace is welcoming and diverse enough that I seldom feel out of place. Regardless of all that, I am not immune to the one daily struggle that probably resonates with anyone living abroad, which is homesickness. Homesickness is worse especially during the winter months and so I put to use all my coping mechanisms to ensure that it does not affect my attitude towards work.
What are the chances of you coming back home?
The chances are very high, as I feel like I am just beginning to kick off my career and I am thankful for the opportunities that I have here. However my final destination is home. I strongly believe my knowledge and expertise would be much more impactful and appreciated at home, and so that is where I plan to utilise the knowledge that I acquire along the way. While I work as a scientist right now, my goal is to venture into global health and/or epidemiology for my masters. The idea of working in Namibia in those specific fields is a lot more exciting for me than if I were to stay here.
If you had the opportunity to amend and enact something that would create a platform for youth employment in Namibia, what would it be?
I think the issue of youth employment is very complex and I will not pretend that I know of quick easy ways to tackle the high unemployment rate. However, being a scientist, I would personally begin to slowly invest more in science and research, thus creating a platform for youth employment in those areas. I feel this goes a long way because through science we can make breakthrough discoveries and inventions that can improve the human condition.
To anyone that’s aspiring to work abroad, what tips do you have for them?
From my personal experience, it’s easier to work in the US if you get your qualifications from here, because that means you would have been in the system for longer and gained sufficient knowledge on how to navigate it. However, while I have limited knowledge on this, I think pursuing a career with an international organisation may also provide another route to working abroad.
What advice do you have for the youth?
As Nelson Mandela once said, Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. I would like to paraphrase that and say knowledge is one of the strongest tools you can use to change your world. Whether through formal education or through other learning experiences, we should always strive to be as knowledgeable as we can. For those in school, recognise the privilege you have to acquire knowledge and strive to excel academically because obviously that goes a long way. Additionally, look for opportunities to gain practical knowledge and to network with those in your field while you are still studying. It is harder for me to advise those who are job hunting or just entering the working world because everyone’s situation is different and generic tips would seem inadequate.
I would still like to advise this demographic to be patient with their own personal growth and to stay committed to their goals regardless of what their current situation may be.
Lily Rukoro (27) that we started with the previous week, then Berneth Koopman (29) last week and now Johannes, are but only three young Namibians currently hustling abroad. From this batch, one can tell that for one to succeed in whatever one wants, it is important to set goals first. Always persevere, know what you want and how to get it and once you have established that you have to come up with an action plan. If that is underway – remain focused, stay committed, disciplined and work hard. Have faith in yourself, believe in yourself.
New Era Reporter
2019-02-27 10:16:59 2 months ago