Youth unemployment is everyone’s business

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Our economy is not in the best shape right now and the youth, especially new graduates, seem to be the most affected by what we hope is a temporary wave of ruin.

Recently, a deputy director in the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Nhlanhla Lupahla, during a public dialogue on perspectives of unemployed graduates, said the country currently has 67 000 unemployed graduates.

In all likelihood, this figure excludes those who recently graduated from the country’s top universities – including those who graduated from NUST in a ceremony held yesterday.

Earlier this week, health minister Bernard Haufiku was at pains to tell parliament of his ministry’s inability to recruit new nurses due to budgetary constraints. He confirmed, though, that the ministry has vacancies and thus needs nurses.

Many medical doctors trained abroad on government funding are still awaiting for their internship placement as is the requirement. A local daily reported not too long ago that some of those unemployed medical doctors have resorted to selling imported Chinese clothes as a means of survival.

Unemployed graduate teachers held demonstrations last month to demand that they be recruited by removing semi-qualified teachers from public schools. The ministry of education responded that it has contractual obligations towards those currently employed by it and would thus not get rid of them at the behest of new graduates.
Simply put, we are at the crossroads. And part of this challenge is the traditional overreliance on government for all of life’s trials.

Where is the private sector in all this? The sector is not playing enough roles of creating jobs, growing the economy or even spending. Government has to carry the burden on all these fronts.
Dependence on government for life’s challenges strips the private sector of its moral obligation in providing aid to various aspects of Namibian life. The sector can thus not fold hands and wait for government to recover financially, while the whole of the country is in the doldrums.

Government already plays the role of getting young people educated by providing education from pre-primary to university. To again expect it to carry the cross of providing jobs is too selfish a posture.
Overall, young people will always need someone to hold their hand – whether it’s government or the private sector. When an economy is not too active, self-reliance is a far-fetched figment of the imagination. Even those graduating from vocational training will find it hard to work for themselves in an economy that is not producing too many opportunities.

This is the time to revive the spirit of being our brother’s keeper. The entire nation needs to come to the party insofar as creating opportunities for the unemployed is concerned. We have a duty of care to which we must all oblige.

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