Far fewer unemployed graduates

There are an estimated 67 000 jobseekers in Namibia, and not 67 000 unemployed graduates.

19 November 2018 | Social Issues

A higher education ministry official has denied that there are 67 000 unemployed graduates in Namibia, saying he was misquoted in a newspaper report.

“I pointed out that among the 67 000 jobseekers were an unspecified number of unemployed and underemployed graduates. Hence, it should be noted that I referred to 67 000 jobseekers and not unemployed graduates as reported,” said Nhlanhla Lupahla, deputy director of innovation at the higher education ministry.

The number was attributed to him after he participated in a panel discussion on unemployed graduates in April this year.

Lupahla said the figure of 67 000 jobseekers was based on the 64 911 jobseekers registered on the labour ministry's online employment portal at the time.

He said he arrived at the figure of 67 000 “based on the projection of at least an additional 2 000 graduates from the 2018 graduates likely to join that number.”

Labour ministry permanent secretary Bro-Mathew Shinguadja said that the number of registered jobseekers on the ministry's integrated employment creation system had since risen to 80 000.

About 5 000 registered jobseekers have found jobs through the portal, where 809 designated employers have registered, Shinguadja said.

Shinguadja told Namibian Sun that “the current joblessness among the youth was estimated at about 47% prior to 16 October 2018.”

He added that no studies had been conducted to establish the exact number of unemployed graduates in Namibia.

Lupahla emphasised that the unemployment rate among graduates remains a priority concern for the ministry.

Biggest concern

“It is painstaking for anyone to invest time, resources and energy and not reap any immediate tangible benefits. There is little doubt that unemployment has a number of negative consequences for those who are in such a situation,” Lupahla said.

One of the main factors contributing to the problem is a lack of career guidance. Students should be helped to find out what training and skills are required to “break into certain industries, particularly in sectors that are not good at diversifying their recruitment”.

Lupahla said it is not entirely true that graduates have a skills gap.

“More often graduates face an experience gap, with many employers preferring to recruit young people who have spent a couple of years in the workplace rather than raw recruitments from university.”

He said internships and apprenticeships are vital to address this issue.

He said there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, as “the situation of unemployed graduates is improving because it is being attended to, including a review of the legislative framework for their registration with relevant professional bodies.”

He urged for a collective approach though, pointing out that unemployment is linked to the performance of the economy.

In addition to the private sector, he said unemployed graduates should register on the labour ministry's job portal.

“They must position themselves to be part of the solution. Instead of apportioning blame to government, advise government on possible strategies to collectively deal with their unemployment situation.”

Unam economics professor Omu Kakujaha-Matundu recently said students should study towards degrees that would increase their chance of employment. They should also put in the hard work required to achieve good grades to land jobs locally and internationally.

He added that Namibia is not the only job market, so students should consider looking for jobs in other countries.

“Be flexible, you are trained to think. Put your theoretical training to work if you do not happen to land a job. Identify possible self-employment opportunities,” he added.

He emphasised that instead of “running around looking for jobs, become a job creator rather than a jobseeker”.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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