THE secretary general of the Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN), Ndjizuvee Haakuria, has described comments by presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari on youth unemployment, especially on school dropouts, as unfortunate.
The government has failed to prepare young people for the job market, she says.
While discussing the issue of youth unemployment on Desert Radio on Friday, Hengari observed that many unemployed young people who have not completed Grade 12 have little prospect of employment compared to those with a tertiary education.
Kaakuria, however, says: “Who is supposed to make the youth employable? Is it not the state? So the state is supposed to give or prepare our young people either for tertiary education through the school system or for employment creation by themselves.
“If you have an education system that produces youth who are unemployable, who do you blame? It is a statement that admits government failure . . .
“He [Hengari] was supposed to come up with what they are doing to impart skills to these young people who are leaving school so that they become employable.”
Hengari has been challenged to advertise two posts at State House so that he can see how many graduates in Namibia are unemployed.
Political analyst Rui Tyitende during a Desert Radio panel discussion on Friday posed Hengari this challenge in response to his comments. Hengari earlier said graduates do far better than those who have not completed Grade 12.
“Even when you talk to graduates, you will be able to encourage them that you have a better chance of succeeding in life as opposed to those who dropped out before completing Grade 12. That’s the reality,” Hengari told Desert Radio.
Tyitende, however, said youth unemployment includes graduates.
Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) spokesperson Imms Nashinge, who also took part in the discussion, said: “The good doctor is one of those people who criticises the bloated civil service he is benefitting from.
“Right now he is a member of the Cabinet outside the actual Cabinet. I know he has a good salary and a good job, so he will not know the impact of unemployment. A few years ago, when he was critical of the situation, he spoke a lot about it.
“Today I am in the same space he was, and I can argue that unemployment remains a challenge in this country,” Nashinge said.
Following the radio interview, Hengari took issue with The Namibian for initially reporting that his comments could be intepreted as him saying those who do not finish school are “unemployable”. Hengari said he actually said graduates stand a much better chance of being employed.
Nashinge on Saturday said he also understood that Hengari said school dropouts were unemployable.
“That’s what I heard, I was even shocked. “Somebody needs to tell me that something was wrong with my ears.
This guy was making a comparison between graduates from university and vocational training, and those who are dropouts.
“Unless he didn’t know what he was saying, maybe he was not prepared,” Nashinge said.
However, Hengari has commended president Geingob’s administration, saying it has done a lot in empowering young people with the right skills through vocational education.
He cited the construction of new vocational training centres as testimony that the government is dealing with the challenge.
While launching the first Harambee Prosperity Plan, Geingob promised that each region would have a public vocational training centre.
A new vocational education college at Khorixas in the Kunene region is expected to become operational this year. New vocational centres are earmarked for the Kavango West, Oshikoto and //Kharas regions.
Hengari encouraged young people to enrol for vocational education, saying it is one way to challenge unemployment.