Youth unemployment rate up by 4.2%

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Windhoek

About 332 970 youths were unemployed in 2013, which is 4.2 percent higher than the 295 492 unemployed young people registered in 2012.

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), in a report issued yesterday, attributes the increase to the lack of skills, a skills mismatch and an unstable labour market due to structural changes.

“The empirical analysis suggests that over-education is a sign of market failure or structural macroeconomic bottlenecks in the economy,” the report further says.

“Youth unemployment is systematic and is highly correlated with education level and gender. It shows locations [of] rural versus urban and regional, [together with] disparities, and manifests elements of a skills mismatch.”
The percentage of youth unemployment in Namibia increased from 39.2 percent in 2012 to 43.4 percent in 2013. The youths are those aged between 15 and 34 years.

The report notes that unemployment and inactivity are more likely to occur among youths in rural areas and among youths with no education or primary school education.

On skills mismatch, the report notes the incidence of over-education and under-education, with the likelihood of a mismatch between occupation higher in males, while under-education is relatively high among females.
The report asks policy makers to “focus on reducing the incidence of over-education which reduces workers’ welfare and in the long run harms employers interests”, and to “focus on under-education and regional disparities in skills, wages and education”.

One of the recommendations is to revist policies that deal with education, as many young people were found to lack a sound educational background, which make them unappealing to the labour market.

“The no-readmission policy of the Ministry of Education needs to be re-looked. Many young people are affected by this policy because they do not complete their high school studies – which in most cases is the first level needed to enter the labour market – therefore making them less desirable to employers,” the report notes.

The other recommendation is for schools to develop curricula that are relevant for tasks where employment prospects are good. “This would require that a steering committee be developed and tasked with drafting a documment that provides proper guidelines for schools on how to develop curricula that are in line with the changing labour market. In that way the education system will be governed by policies that help facilitate easier entry into the labour market and hopefully lessen the skills mismatch.”

The report also asks for the promotion of the girl child into the education system from the grass-roots level, because figures have shown that more females are unemployed than males.

“Although education credentials are important in securing jobs, education alone is not sufficient to meet the skills required,” the report says.

“Transition from spells of unemployment is uneven, with more youth absorbed into employment within a year after leaving school or in-between jobs,” the acting statistician general Sikongo Haihambo said yesterday.
According to him, unemployment and inactivity are more likely to occur among the youths in rural areas and younger youths 15 -19 years of age, and also among youths with no education or primary education.

According to the report, while there has been an increase of 15 494 female youths in the labour force, the number of male youths in the labour force declined by 2 085 in 2013.
Key indicators of the labour market variables were analysed by key groups, namely, sex, age, education level, marital status, rural/urban, region and occupation.

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