Make unpopular choices to create jobs- !Gawaxab

By Confidente Reporter

NAMIBIA needs to make unpopular choices to shift from job protection emphasis to job creation philosophy in order to weather the current economic storm, chairman of the High Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE) Johannes !Gawaxab has said.

!Gawaxab was speaking at the Employment Creation Seminar in Windhoek this week, which sought to identify bottlenecks in terms of policy, education and training and incentives, including legislation hindering employ- ment creation in the country.

“Namibia needs to make tough decisions or remain stuck in the current economic storm. To escape the storm we need to make unpopular choices like shifting philosophy from job protection only to job creation,” he said.

The Namibian labour law, with an over- arching interest to protect employees above employers is partially blamed for scaring away investment by !Gawaxab, who said in order to retain existing jobs, “It is as im- portant as creating new jobs. Research is telling us that the number one destroyer of jobs is corruption, mismanagement and incompetence.

“Our economic policies must also en- courage local entrepreneurs, prevent financial and human capital flight, champion those already creating jobs and prevent closure of local companies, particularly SMEs.”

He pointed out that the power of technology has accelerated due to dramatic gains in data storage, processing power and algorithm-driven analytics. “Shifts will happen everywhere from routine shop floor work to tasks performed by professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants. Technology has become an amplifier and an accelerator. A recent McKinsey and Company study predicts that almost half the time workers spend on their jobs can already
be replaced with existing technologies.”

He said: “We need to get our basics right, learn from successful nations, prioritising labour intensive growth, make ideological compromises, embrace the
fourth industrial revolution, and hire the most competent and talented executives, boards and individuals to run our companies and institutions. These collectively will go a long way in protecting and creating sustainable jobs”.

Unam Vice-Chancellor Professor Kenneth Matengu, a member of the HLPE and co-chair of the employment seminar, said it aimed is to discuss and agree on actions to address labour productivity concerns, as well as achieve consensus on job creation interventions required in the short term.

He said Namibia needed to develop a consensus, to coordinate better and main- stream its efforts. “We need to make bold decisions and agree on what we must and can do for the country to move forward.”