Job crisis: 105 firms retrench 853 workers in 3 months

By Marianne Nghidengwa

OVER 100 companies across various sectors retrenched around 853 workers between October and December 2019, adding to the country’s already high unemployment rate, as per statistics by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation. The highest number of job losses was recorded in the construction sector with 231 jobs lost, followed by the manufacturing sector with 200.

Of the 853 workers retrenched by 105 companies, the highest job losses were recorded in the Khomas region at 449, followed by Kavango East (129), Erongo (136) and Karas (76). The lowest job losses were recorded in Otjozondjupa at 31, Oshikoto (15), Hardap (13) and Oshana four.

In response to the worrisome trend, labour researcher and activist Dr Herbert Jauch said the statistics clearly paints a picture of an economy in crisis.

“As it is at the moment, there is no turnaround strategy despite talks by politicians. It is not happening by itself. What needs to happen is what we call ‘developmental state intervention’ where the state targets particular sectors, as well the state providing support to certain industries where Namibians can be employed. For instance, government continues to give tenders to foreign companies which has ripple effects in the form of retrenchments.

“Government needs to play a central part to turn the economy around. That has been missing for quite some time. The economic policy has been a wait-and-see approach and that is not good enough. So far it has been the same thing. It can be done if the President is brave enough to admit that what was done has not worked and pave a new way to recovery.”

According to the available statistics, 1,899 jobseekers were registered during that period, of which 967 are men and 932 women.  Out of the 1.899 jobseekers, 1,578 were unemployed, while 318 were employed jobseekers looking for other opportunities. Only 15 of the jobseekers were people with disabilities.

Erongo region registered the most job seekers with 608 and Khomas 574. The regions with the lowest number of jobseekers registered were Kavango West with 24, Omusati (33) and Ohangwena (32).

The statistics further show that most unemployed jobseekers registered during the period attained senior secondary level of education (511), followed by jobseekers with junior secondary education (386), certificate/diploma (277), university degree (181), primary education (171) and 19 with no formal education. Only 24 of the jobseekers registered have postgraduate degrees.

The statistics further show that 75 jobseekers were placed for employment: 27 female and 48 male.

Omaheke region recorded the highest number of jobseekers placed (30), followed by Ohangwena with 12. The wholesale, retail, repair of motor vehicles had most jobseekers placed (26), followed by the construction industry (20), while agriculture had only six placements. The majority of the jobseekers placed had senior secondary education (21), junior secondary education (18) and jobseekers without formal education (11).

The ministry also conducted a combined 573 workplace inspections in the wholesale and retail sector (378), as well as security services (195) during that period. The compliance level in both sectors, according to the ministry, was reasonably acceptable as they stood at 64% and 66%, respectively. The ministry would however like to see 100% compliance.