Namibia: Job Requirements Have Evolved - Economy Panel

19 September 2019

THE high-level panel on the Namibian economy has said that the labour market appears not qualification-driven anymore, but rather requires high-calibre skills, even for entry-level jobs.

This and more was the subject of discussion at the recent employment-creation conference hosted by the High-level Panel on the Economy held on Tuesday and yesterday.

Employment-creation has become a household topic in Namibia, with unemployment still at 33,4%, and the N$29 billion government wage bill declared unsustainable by the International Monetary Fund.

Statistics from the central bank show that the current wage bill is about 16% of gross domestic product, which is one of the highest in the world.

The high-level panel said in a brief statement on the event that it was important that the youth are given multiple pathways through which they could attain decent work.

"In order to achieve the desired outcomes, emphasis must be placed on developing high-level skills and support for business incubation, fast-track growth and expansion," the panel observed.

Throughout the conference, there were numerous calls to enhance superior skills education and training to foster opportunities which strengthen skills and improve employability, labour productivity, and income growth.

Mechanisms for making the education system at secondary school level, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and tertiary education to deliver superior skills in the graduates, should be implemented in collaboration with the private sector.

"Through concerted efforts of the Namibia Training Authority, MTC and other agencies, strides have been taken to provide opportunities for the youth and women to enter the labour market," the panel noted.

The cluster, however, conceded that there was still a lot of work ahead to reduce gaps between the needs of emerging businesses and the provision of training.

The panel stated that adjustments are required to make technical vocational education and tertiary education more adept to the economic circumstances and demands of Namibia's rural and urban economies.

The question hanging above the education system relates to its relevance towards the future of work, and whether the structural hurdles can be overcome to harness the potential of the much-talked-about fourth Industrial Revolution.

"Is the current education relevant to the economic trajectory the country is moving towards? Furthermore, how do we incorporate artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship and financial literacy into the education system?" the panel asked.

The high-level panel will examine the findings of the employment-creation seminar, and come up with the needed interventions which will be presented to Cabinet for resolution later this year.

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