Jobless youth face uphill struggle

Unemployed youth face homelessness, depression and more
Two unemployed youth have opened up about the impact of failing to secure a job and the difficulties they experience as a result.
Aurelia Afrikaner and Ingrid Booysen
With the country's youth unemployment rate having reached crisis levels, with an estimated 50% of young people jobless, Namibia's president has warned that the crisis is close to warranting a declaration of a state of emergency.

"Youth, if they are all going to rise up, it will be a crisis. We count the youth from 14 to 20 [years old]. They can get guns somewhere. We are talking about terrorism. They are available. There is a danger," President Hage Geingob said during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) address this month.

Difficult existence

The Zone recently asked unemployed youth to share their experiences trying to find work and the impact of being without a job.

*John, who declined to be identified by his real name, is an 18-year-old homeless man who supports his sister and niece. He currently lives on Windhoek's streets.

John said he dropped out of school in seventh grade and lost his mother when he was young. Eventually, he decided to leave Mariental in pursuit of a better life in the capital because the circumstances back home were proving to be too difficult.

John said one of the jobs he has taken on is garden work.

"I have no doubt that if my mother were still alive, I would be living a better life right now and not be on the streets. I believe that it is only by the grace of God that I am still here today. I spent a year in jail and was stabbed numerous times while on the street," he explained, lifting his shirt to point at his scars.

"I also look after my 22-year-old sister, who has grade 12, and her one-year-old child; life on the streets is not easy," he said.

He pleaded for assistance from the public, as said he is in need of a job and donations. He can be found at the Woermann, Brock store in Eros.

A sad state of affairs

*Jane, who also declined to use her real name, is an unemployed graduate in radio production from the College of the Arts.

She said "being an unemployed graduate is the most tiring thing. It is also very depressing, and it puts you in the mental space of 'I cannot do anything right, even if I'm educated'. Being at home every day and sending your CV everywhere is depressing."

She said she has been without work for three years, since her graduation.

"I have started trying all positions instead of just what I have studied. Of course, I have tried to change my situation, but maybe it is just not my time to work in my field yet."

Jobs needed

With youth unemployment an important current topic in the country, Namibian citizens were shocked to see more than a thousand unemployed young people queuing to apply for one of the 16 vacant positions that were advertised at Temperature Lounge & Restaurant recently. Footage showing the long rows of desperate job seekers were circulated in a viral social media video.

During his SONA, Geingob highlighted various state job vacancies.

"The Namibia Correctional Services has commenced the process of recruiting 300 new intakes, while the Namibian Police will recruit an additional 1 000 intakes in 2023, which will significantly relieve the human resource constraints being experienced in the police force. The Namibia Defence Force has recruited 1 470 intakes during 2022 and has made provision to recruit an additional 1 500 new intakes for the year 2023," the president said.

In a report last year, youth minister Agnes Tjongarero said she had noted that the Namibian labour market has been unable to fully absorb all new entrants into the workforce to fulfil the capacity and potential that Namibian youth can bring to the economy. She said among the high unemployment rate, the youth and women were most affected.

*John and Jane are not their real names.


Allgemeine Zeitung 2023-06-06

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