Job desperation causes chaos
There was chaos at TransNamib's Ondangwa offices yesterday where hundreds of people turned up to apply for 40 posts announced over the radio.
16 January 2019 | Economics
There were scenes of pandemonium as the jobless laid siege to the front gate - a clear sign of desperation among the country's 43.4% unemployed young people.
Given the high unemployment rate in the country, many have condemned the recruitment method used by TransNamib. The railway parastatal announced on radio that it was looking for 40 people to work on a long-term contract to repair the 315-kilometre railway between Oshikango and Tsumeb. Hundreds of unemployed youth from all over the northern regions gathered at the entrance of TransNamib Ondangwa.
Some of the jobseekers told Namibian Sun that they had slept in front of the gate in the hope that the company would use a first-come-first-served system, but due to the high turnout, there was no order. Jobseekers had to hand their CVs through the closed gate to TransNamib officials and security officers after Ondangwa Urban constituency councillor Elia Irimari advised the officials not to open the gate, in order to avoid a catastrophe.
However, jobseekers ended up throwing their CVs over the fence in desperation.
“Conducting such a recruitment process in one day was a big mistake. Earlier on we advised TransNamib to do the recruitment through the regional council offices, but they refused, saying that they wanted it to be a fair process.
“We are currently faced with a high unemployment rate and the youth are eager to take any opportunity that may come their way,” Irimari said.
“At our office we have a database of about 800 registered unemployed youth. If they could have approached us, we could have assisted them amicably.”
TransNamib CEO Johnny Smith could not be reached for comment.
Kennedy Shikongo from Uukwandongo village near Okahao in the Omusati Region said he was laid off from a mine last year and when he heard the news that TransNamib was recruiting, he travelled to Ondangwa.
“I came here at 03:00 in the morning and I found about 100 people already. There was no order, as everybody wants to work,” Shikongo said.
Another jobseeker, Kliopas Kalenga from Ondobe in Ohangwena Region, said he slept in Ondangwa in the hope of finding a job, but he gave up.
“Given the number of people who turned up, I refused to hand in my CV. How can I throw my papers just like that and still have a hope of getting a job? This was a useless way of recruiting people. This was a joke.”
The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) councillor on the Ondangwa town council, Johnny Whiteman Martin, said the way TransNamib management and staff handled the recruitment process was unacceptable and an insult to the Namibian youth.
He said this not only showed how unprofessional the TransNamib management was, but was a waste of the applicants' money.
“No Namibian should be subjected to such unprofessional behaviour just because the company is offering employment.
“Employers should handle the recruitment process in a standard manner that will help ease the situation and make applicants happy,” Martin said
“PDM in Ondangwa is against what the TransNamib management did and we are asking for an apology and the postponement of this recruitment process, so that it can be done in a professional manner that will make all stakeholders happy.”
Martin said the government was also to blame for dumping school leavers on the streets because of its ineffective education system and sufficient funding for those who wished to further their studies.
Failing English in grade 10 and 12 was a major contributor to high youth unemployment, Martin said.
He said it was time to abolish English as a promotional subject, since not all professionals required English.
In 2017 the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) announced that the unemployment rate was 43.4% among those aged between 15 and 34. To make matters worse, many people have been laid off over the past two years because of the recession.