60 000 register for jobs

A report compiled by International Labour Organisation experts says Namibia's relatively strong growth until 2015 was not sufficient to overcome poverty, inequality and reduce unemployment.

31 May 2018 | Labour

Nearly 60 000 desperate jobseekers were registered on the Namibia Integrated Employment Information System (NIEIS) jobs portal by February last year, while in 2016 alone, 15 023 jobseekers registered and only 1 371 were placed.

These statistics, which capture the desperation for employment in Namibia, have emerged in a report compiled for the labour ministry by International Labour Organisation (ILO) experts.

This followed an assessment of the Public Employment Service (PES) of Namibia in January and February 2017, which examined the provision of employment services in the country by analysing the institutional, policy and legal frameworks.

Namibia instituted reforms through the enactment of the Employment Services Act in 2011, which established the Employment Services Board and Bureau.

The bureau makes it compulsory for all companies to register all vacancies and new positions, including temporary jobs. Companies must also inform the bureau of any advertisements for new jobs they are placing in the media.

The Assessment of Public Employment Service and Active Labour Market Policies in Namibia report highlights that the relatively strong economic growth until 2015 in Namibia was not sufficient to overcome poverty, inequality and reduce unemployment.

It says Namibia is faced with high levels of unemployment, especially among the youth (43.4%).

It also said there is a mismatch between the skills provided by education and training and the skills demand by firms, especially creating vacancies.





Using the national poverty line of N$377.96 per month, Namibian poor made up 28.7% in 2009/10, following a 9% fall from 37.7% in 2003/4, the report says.

However, based on international poverty lines, 19.7% of the population was living on less than USS$1.90 a day in 2015, compared to 21% in 2010.

In 2015, 42.9% were living below the US$3.10 per day poverty line, compared to 45.1% in 2010.

When an employer reports a vacancy to the employment bureau, the information is immediately made available to the NIEIS, which in turn informs registered jobseekers throughout the country.

The NIEIS already had 60 000 jobseekers on registered on its portal by January/February last year, the report says. Specifically, a total of 15 023 jobseekers were registered in 2016, of which a total of 1 371 were placed over the same period.

“Despite this the Public Employment Service in Namibia is faced with serious capacity restrictions that prevent it from meeting its potential contribution in improving the functioning of the labour market,” the report says.

It points out that the capacity of the employment bureau is weak with only 29 employment officers across the country, that corresponds to a ratio of approximately 90 000 people per office. This is in contrast to the equivalent ratios of 3 000 people or less per employment officers in many developed countries.

With an estimated frontline staff of 24 employment officers, each officer is associated with over 14 000 unemployed people or 2 800 jobseekers, according to the report.

Moreover the 18 regional offices in Namibia cater for urban and semi-urban areas only, leaving out the more than 50% of the population living in rural areas.

“Measures therefore need to be put in place to reach out to people in all geographical areas, without expanding the offices to an excessive extent,” the report says.

It also pointed out that the professional capacity of employment bureau staff needs to be strengthened, as there is no systematic training plan in place.

The last training that was offered locally, in collaboration with the ILO, was over a decade ago and no refresher courses have since been provided.

“Professionalisation of the employment service staff is therefore lacking and contributes to high staff turnover.”

According to the report, the infrastructure of the Public Employment Service is also poor and does not present a good image to clients, particularly highly-skilled jobseekers, young people and employers.

It further noted that services to employers are weak, revolving around matching jobseekers to notified vacancies.

The report also highlighted a skills mismatch.

This is related in part to the extent to which labour market information systems can inform the choices and training provided in the country and secondly how individuals are deciding on their career and the education and training areas they can pursue.

Several recommendations were made in the report to ensure a more efficient matching of the available vacancies and jobseekers, thereby increasing productivity, job creation and the promotion of self-employment.

ELLANIE SMIT

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