The Namibian (Windhoek)

5 June 2013

Namibian Professionals Worry About Socio-Economic Issues

PROFESSIONALS like doctors, lawyers, engineers and dentists are increasingly concerned about socio-economic issues in Namibia such as profession-specific job opportunities, health-care standards and education costs.

They are however still confident enough about the future to continue staying in the country for now.

This is based on the latest PPS Namibia Graduate Professional Confidence Index (PCI), which tracks the confidence levels of over 130 local graduate professionals. First quarter results for 2013 revealed that 87% of respondents were confident to remain in Namibia for the foreseeable future.

Adri Vermeulen, Chief Executive of PPS Namibia, said the fact that these professionals, who sustain the country's skills force through the provision of vital professional services, do not have plans to emigrate is “very positive”.

“Despite this however, they are increasingly pessimistic regarding the opportunities available in Namibia, which could impact their decision to stay in the country in the long-term,” said Vermeaulen.

The index revealed that 69% of respondents are confident that there are enough opportunities available to new professional entrants into Namibia's labour market.

In addition, 76% are confident there are enough opportunities to practitioners working in their specific profession in order to reach their maximum potential in the country. The concerns are reflected in the National Planning Commission's National Human Resources Plan that addresses issues of critical skills creation to meet current and emerging development challenges.

“This document states that the Namibian higher education sector faces challenges of recruiting and retaining Namibians who hold a post-graduate qualification, with a particular problem for the sciences, information and communication technology and engineering fields,” according to Vermeulen.

While confidence in the standard of education over the next five years increased by one percent to 60%, 75% of professionals indicated that the cost of education is an increasing concern - 3% up.

“The National Human Resources Plan highlights the limited capacity of tertiary education to absorb new learners and low educational attainments as the major reasons why higher education graduates are not sufficiently prepared to face the country's changing socio-economic challenges.” Vermeulen said.

The future of health-care is a concern for 60% of Namibian professional - down 4%. Healthcare remains a concern for most Namibians as the poor are unable to find adequate healthcare due to high costs and lack of medical resources in rural areas, says Vermeulen.

On a positive note however, he said teams of doctors are joining the Medic Rural Upliftment and Social Healthcare initiative which provides primary healthcare to underprivileged communities.

To date the initiative has assisted over 5 000 patients by providing medication for common ailments and preventative care and screening for common conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

“In order to attract and retain valuable skills to the country, it is important to be aware and address the concerns the survey highlights to ultimately sustain the economy,” Vermeulen concluded.

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