Mammoth task ahead for New Employment Services Board

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Edgar Brandt
Windhoek

The second Employment Services Board, which was inaugurated on Friday, commences its operation at a time when a large section of the Namibian labour force is jobless – particularly the youth – and many of those who are employed do not enjoy decent work, while informal employment is increasing.

The second Employment Services Board, which was inaugurated by Labour Industrial Relations and Employment Creation Minister Erkki Nghimtina is tasked with the critical responsibility of providing advice and guidance regarding labour and employment services.

“The high rate of unemployment and extreme income inequality are among the biggest challenges that Namibia faces today as a nation. This means that we have not yet achieved the goals set out in our ambitious and hopeful plans.
“By your appointment to the Board, you have been given an opportunity and a responsibility to contribute to the reversal of the current situation,” Nghimtina told the 14 members newly appointed to the Board.
The Employment Services Act of 2011 established the Employment Services Board as a part of the National Employment Service.

Specifically, the legislation states that a National Employment Service be established to provide professional labour market services for the purpose of achieving full, productive and decent employment in Namibia. This National Employment Service consists of the Employment Services Board and the Employment Services Bureau.

The functions of Board as set out in Section 4 of the Act are to investigate and advise the minister on the provision of the employment services and the attainment of other objectives of the Employment Services Act; and to assist the minister in monitoring and analysing labour market developments concerning occupations and occupational segments, including vocational training. The Board is also tasked with advising the minister on legislation pertaining to the provisions of employment services and regulation of private employment agencies and to facilitate and coordinate multi-sectoral cooperation to achieve the objectives of the Employment Services Act.

While acknowledging that the Board has the statutory power to advise him on any employment related matter, Nghimtina said his priorities for the newly appointed members would be to focus on improving labour market services, coordination of employment creation, the Decent Work Country Programme, as well as mainstreaming gender in employment.

“I also bring to your attention that the ministry is contemplating amending the Employment Service Act to elaborate upon and to strengthen the statutory responsibility of the Board to facilitate and coordinate multi-sectoral cooperation to achieve the objectives of the Employment Services Act.

“At present, the level of coordination and cooperation across government at all levels and between government and the private sector and public enterprises falls short of what is required in order to maximise employment creation.

“I invite your proposals in this regard, particularly as what needs to be done to ensure that employment is placed at the centre of social and economic development,” Nghimtina told the new members.

“As you can see, there is much to be done. I have complete confidence that you will carry out your duties with the utmost of integrity and commitment to the improvement of the lives of our people,” he concluded.

The new Board members are Lingani Sibalatani, (chairperson), David Iigonda, Calvin Muchila, Gillian Korner, Loide Shaanika, Mahongora Kavihuha, Germano Musili, Dantago Garosas, Ben Shikolalye, Elsarien Katiti, Dr Michael Akuupa, Herbert Jauch, Nkrumah Mushelenga and Aune Mundjanima.

Speaking on behalf of the Board, reappointed chairperson Lingani Sibalatani said: “I am of the opinion that if we want to address the problem of unemployment, we have to effectively implement the laws and policies that we have developed for that purpose. It is a well-known fact that our country has a shortage of critical skills needed for the growth of our economy. We should find ways of addressing this issue in short, medium and long-term”.

She added that the importance of regulating the labour market could not be over emphasised, as the mandate of government to regulate the labour market is derived from the Namibian Constitution, as well as the constitution of the international Labour Organisation.

“This is premised on the conviction that employment is fundamental to the fight against poverty and social exclusion and that job creation should be placed at the heart of economic and social policies,” Sibalatani concluded.

The changing labour market conditions in our country call for strengthening of public service institutions to ensure that they are better equipped to respond to the changing demand for their services and achievement of our NDPs and Vision 2030 goals.

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