Private Sector ‘Too Preferential’

With the ever-growing number of unemployed university graduates roaming the streets, the education minister partly blames the private sector saying it is “too preferential” in appointing staff.

The Minister of Education, Dr David Namwandi, was responding to questions from New Era on why the country has many university graduates who can’t find work. He said some private institutions do not want to employ graduates just from any tertiary institution even though they excelled in their studies.

“Some employers especially the private sector apply preferential treatment when appointing workers. They prefer to employ certain graduates from certain universities such as the University of Cape Town or Stellenbosch. You also find that in some private institutions some people are appointed according to their skin colour,” lamented the minister. On the other hand, government has done its best to absorb graduates. “The government is the largest employer in the country but it cannot employ everybody. The private sector should take over. If the private sector is saying that skills produced by tertiary institutions inside the country are not demand-driven, then why not train graduates further if they have the capital to get the skills that they want?” the minister queried.

Namwandi also lashed out at some private institutions that allegedly refuse certain university students internships for them to gain experience and be trained for the job market.

“The private sector should open up and give internship to students and it should not be done based on skin colour. Cabinet has given a directive for a national internship programme. We already sent a team outside the country to go and learn how other countries do it. We will soon implement the programme,” Namwandi noted.

Furthermore, he attributed the escalating number of unemployed graduates to other reasons such as graduands not able to impress employers during interviews, while others drop out of jobs for no valid reason.

“It will not be fair to make all institutions the scapegoats. There are many factors that can bring unemployment in any given country. It could be that students upon graduation do not know their credentials. Possibly the programmes developed by institutions were supply-driven and not demand-driven,” he reasoned, adding that the job market may also be too small to absorb all newly skilled people. Hence, he said, there was a need to expand.

He also urged unemployed graduates to be job creators and not just job seekers.

This year, over 1 700 certificates, diplomas and degrees were conferred on 1 230 students of the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN), while 1 041 graduated at Unam. Last year about 5 000 Namibian students graduated from PoN and Unam. The latest study from the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE), conducted in 2011, does not confirm the gender of unemployed graduates from PoN and Unam, but the study reveals 26 percent of students who graduate do not immediately find work. Moreover, nearly four out of five graduates only find a job after about two years after graduating.

The agriculture sector absorbs about 15 percent of graduates, while 20 percent go into public administration, social security, police and defence.

According to the report on ‘Unemployment and Youth in Namibia’, a study conducted by the Afronaut Foundation, as most new job growth is in the informal sectors of the economy, there are few opportunities for young graduates to find work that corresponds to their education.

The report says many highly educated workers end up migrating to industrialised countries to improve their job prospects. The resulting brain drain holds serious consequences for future development and job creation in the country.

“On the other hand, the business sector points out that it is hard to find people with certain specific skills or training,” the report revealed.

It also states that at the top end of the labour market in Namibia there has been an increase in the supply of professional and high-level technical jobs, but as a result of the growth in educational participation, especially at the graduate and post-graduate level, competition for jobs is rather extreme and this has resulted in the demand for educated workers not equalling supply, leading to qualification inflation.

It also highlighted there is an inappropriate matching of degrees with occupations.

“The simplest explanation given for the reasons for such a high unemployment rate as Namibia’s, is simply the lack of jobs in the formal sector and the narrow economic base the market holds. In other words, the educational institutions push out too many graduates from areas which are already either filled with professionals or the numbers are too high, while the labour market is lacking Namibian know-how in certain areas,” stated the report.

Source : New Era