Parliament debate on youth unemployment long overdue

Eba Kandovazu

BY the end of 2021, Namibia is expected to reach a staggering 50.3% youth unemployment rate. This is according to Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Member of Parliament (MP), Inna Hengari, notifying Parliament today to debate the issue.

Hengari says the youth labour force is 576 000 youth with 265 770 thereof unemployed and roaming the streets. This, according to her, represented by the end of 2018 a 46% youth unemployment. Hengari also notes that the youth unemployment rate in Namibia is more than twice than that of adults. “More concerning, is that the highest qualification of 229 259 or 31.6% of the labour force is a Junior Secondary Certificate. In other words, Grade 10 certificate holders. Those with qualifications account for a mere 93 998 in the labour force”, Hengari stresses.

The MP wants Parliament to resolve that the President, Hage Geingob, declares a state of emergency on youth unemployment and also for Parliament to discuss and agree on long-term and short-term interventions in addressing the unemployment crisis.

Labour expert, Herbert Jauch, says the parliamentary debate is long overdue. “Hopefully now they take it seriously. The high youth unemployment rate issue has been ongoing already for over ten years. Now, with COVID-19, it has become worse, especially for the youth and women. This time around, law makers will hopefully come up with interventions and not just bemoan and take note of the figures,”Jauch states.

According to him, statistics before COVID-19 hit Namibia showed that the overall unemployment rate was around 34 percent. Of these, close to 50 percent were young people. He adds that women’s unemployment ratio was higher than men.

The Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation Ministry, says it has no policy deliberately considering unemployed youth although it is using the existent national employment database to refer jobseekers to potential employers for consideration, depending on the availability of jobs. “Youth unemployment is a concern for every responsible citizen and it is therefore appropriate and relevant to be debated in parliament. The motion to be tabled in parliament is one of national interest and should deliberate on possible mechanisms that are deemed as viable to tackle this challenge and ultimately agree on a way forward. The debate I welcomed,” Labour Ministry Spokesperson, Anna Salkeus, says.

She adds that 55 young unemployed people benefited from a collaborative programme between the ministry and the National Youth Service, which prepared them for employment and subsequently deployed them at various institutions for practical exposure from March to August this year.

Meanwhile, another PDM MP, Kazeongere Tjeundo wants parliament to debate and seek redress for the poorest regions in the country namely; Kavango East, Kavango West, Kunene, Zambezi and Ohangwena.

“The 2021 Multidimensional Poverty Index released by the Namibia Statistics Agency(NSA) gave us a lucid indication of the geographical areas hit hardest by poverty in Namibia. The 2021 Multidimensional Poverty Index indicates that among the poverty indices examined across all fourteen regions, the incidences of multidimensional poverty were recorded highest in Kavango West, Kavango East, Kunene, Zambezi and Ohangwena,”Tjeundo says.

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