Windhoek-The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) has explained that employment and unemployment rates are derived from the labour force or the economically active population. In Namibia, this population is 1,026,268 people, and out of this about 676,885 persons are employed (66 percent).
The unemployment rate among the youth is 43.4 percent for those in the 15 to 34 year old age bracket. This age bracket adopted by the NSA is the official definition of youth, as recommended by Africa Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the purpose of international comparisons of labour statistics.
The 70 percent unemployment rates in the age group 15 to 19 years, which recently made headline news in the press and on social media must be seen in relation to the labour force population of that age group, which is 51,725 persons, the NSA said.
The total population in this age group is 242,819 persons, of which majority of them (about 191,094 people or 78.7 percent) are regarded as “economically inactive” (in school and not available for work and those who are disabled), because they are still in school or training, or for other reasons like disabilities, explained the NSA spokesman Nelson Ashipala.
Ashipala noted that the survey results recorded 46,377 persons who are not in education and/or not in training either, plus 5,348 who are in education/training, which makes up 51,725 people in the age-group 15 to 19 years during the interview period in October/November of 2016.
“As per International Labour Organisation (ILO) definitions, work or employment take precedence over anything, and also the entire Labour Force Survey Analysis is always and has always been from 15 years and above. Hence, we cannot exclude them unless they state that they are not available for work either, because they are in school or for other reasons which makes them inactive,” said Ashipala.
Historically, unemployment rates in this group has always been high due to the fact that many of those who found themselves in the labour force have low qualifications as well and the labour market is not able to absorb them.
“The question that should be asked is: why do we find so many youths who are supposed to be in school now in the labour force, rather than questioning the validity of the results of the survey, which has been consistent in all the four surveys conducted by the NSA.
“In fact, it is true that the picture should have shown many (if not all) of the 15 to 19 years to be in the category of economically inactive, as they should be in school. This means that there is a need for a socio-economic analysis on this matter and it also implies that the Ministry of Labour, through its labour inspectors, needs to look into the matter of minimum legal age of employment,” Ashipala added.
In addition, the strict unemployment rate (people who have actively been looking for work during the four weeks prior to survey) for the youth aged 15 to 19 years is 51.3 percent. “This figure is still high and it tells a story of the dire need for an income at this age (15 to 19 years),” Ashipala noted.