Youth unemployment staggeringly high… 70% of 15 to 19 year-olds out of work

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Edgar Brandt

Windhoek-Namibia’s unemployment rate of 34 percent, or almost 350,000 people, is most prevalent amongst the youth with over 70 percent of those aged 15 to 19 out of work.

While the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) already revealed the national unemployment figure in May this year, the agency elaborated on the unemployment rate yesterday when it revealed details of the 2016 Labour Force Statistics.

The detailed figures indicate an alarming trend amongst the youth with close to 55 percent of people aged 20 to 24 out of work, about 38 percent of people aged 25 to 29 and approximately 29 percent of the population aged between 30 to 34 unemployed. These figures are based on the total Namibian population in October 2016, which was at 2.3 million people, meaning that a mere 676 885 people were employed at the time.

The NSA defines the unemployed as those who were without work during the reference period and were available for work or self-employment during the reference period.

“The growing levels of unemployment in Namibia poses a very serious and dangerous picture for the nation and should not be taken for granted as the continued negative social implications thereof could, among others, significantly affect the country’s economic development plans and programmes,” warned socio-economist Pendapala Hangala.

He added that the rate at which unemployment levels have been increasing across the country over the years showcases a high negative trend, which if not nipped in the bud now could derail all national development efforts that were meant to propel the country to an industrialized nation by the year 2030.

According to the NSA, the country’s unemployment rate in 2014 stood at about 28 percent, in 2013 was at 30.2 percent and in 2012 was 27.5 percent.

“Youth unemployment is very concerning and it is important that we urgently find ways to stimulate employment amongst this, the largest demographic, in order make a meaningful impact on overall unemployment. For instance, the 15 – 19 category (70.4%) is two times more likely to be unemployed than the 30 – 34 age bracket (28.6%) according to the broad measure. Percentage of employed population by industry reflects a decline in agriculture, which is the highest employer. This is understandably a devastating consequence of drought, while a considerably slower consumer economy is reflected in the retail sector,” said Ngoni Bopoto, research analyst at Namibia Equity Brokers.

He added that public administration’s lower contribution to employment is oddly welcome and on the positive side accommodation posted a modest increase in its role as an employer.

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