19 February 2019

Namibia: Banking Sector to Shed 1 800 Jobs

The secretary general of the Namibia Bank Workers Union, Moses Mamba, says approximately 1 800 jobs in the banking industry will be lost due to banks providing most of their services through online banking.

He said some jobs were lost in 2018 already, but the trend will continue over the next five to 10 years.

According to Mamba, banks are using the transformation process as a disguise, although in actual sense it is a modern way of retrenching people.

In the long run, this is going to negatively impact the Namibian economy as more people will lose jobs, and the rate of unemployment will thus continue to increase.

This will also negatively affect people who work as tellers in the bank as their role will be replaced with automatic teller machines (ATMs), the unionist said, adding that banks are likewise losing track of the traditional relationship with their clients.

In an interview with The Namibian last week, the secretary general said the banking industry currently employs approximately 6 000 people.

These employees form part of First National Bank, Bank Windhoek, Standard Bank, the Agricultural Bank of Namibia, Trustco Bank and Letshego Bank.

The most significant portion of people is employed by First National Bank (FNB).

"We are not nearing the fourth Industrial Revolution in the banking industry, while we are already in the fourth Industrial Revolution," Mamba stated.

Part of the transformation process is when banks transfer their employees to other branches and replace the existing ones with some automatic teller machines (ATMs).

According to him, some of the banks have closed down some of their branches, and have transferred their employees to those branches where they are short of staff.

Mamba said as a result of the way banks treat most of their employees, they as a union will take protest actions and consult their legal teams to fight on behalf of their members.

Bank Workers Union of Namibia's (Bawon) secretary general Thomas Muchima said in three years, there will be rapid innovation, the transformation of company engines, and old traditional working skills.

"The global labour market will be severely disrupted by emerging technologies and their potential to replace human workers in the next few years," he observed.

Muchima said over seven million of today's jobs are predicted to disappear by 2020, and businesses thus need to ensure that today's workforce is ready for tomorrow's skills requirements.

The digital world seeks digital leaders to enhance customer relationships, and to lead greater value chain integration, meaning people should be ready for digitalisation, he added.

Furthermore, leadership development, critical and strategic thinking, complex problem-solving, creativity, emotional intelligence and service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility, as well as social and cultural awareness are among the skills required for the digital economy, he said.

Standard Bank's marketing manager of corporate and investment banking, Sindano Nekundi, said online banking gives one access to personal and business accounts anytime and anywhere.

According to him, internet banking gives one the freedom to choose their banking hours, giving them greater control of their finances because it's secure, fast and easy to use.

First National Bank's interim results for the period December 2018 indicate that their revenue performance is attributed to investments in digitisation and customer-centric service as they were bearing fruit.

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