23 Oct 2013 18:30pm
WINDHOEK, 23 OCT (NAMPA) - President Hifikepunye Pohamba says one of the biggest challenges faced by Namibia is how to achieve the goal of creating productive and decent employment for all Namibian people who are able to work.
Pohamba said the achievement of that goal is the key to the elimination of poverty while addressing the audience at the opening of the two-day National Employment Conference in the capital on Wednesday
The theme of the conference is 'Towards full and productive employment in Namibia'.
The challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment have been the preoccupation of the Namibian Government since Independence, he said, adding that Government therefore put in place policy frameworks that underpin the national economic and social development efforts.
The rate of unemployment in Namibia currently stands at 27,4 per cent according to the 2012 Labour Force Survey, but unemployment amongst youth aged between 20 and 24 years stands at 48,5 per cent. In all age groups, the percentage of unemployed women is higher than that of men.
This conference is indeed a welcome platform for us to consider policy options and strategies to address these challenges. In order to succeed we must, as a matter of urgency, take practical steps to reduce high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment, while ensuring industrial peace and harmony in all sectors of the economy, the Head of State said.
According to President Pohamba, this requires the full and active engagement of all stakeholders in the society including the central Government, regional councils, local authorities, the legislature, private businesses, workers, employers, educational and training institutions and civil society.
We should do all that is necessary to move our country forward, by developing our human resource potential and investing in Namibias socio-economic development by building sustainable industries in order to create employment and eradicate poverty, he said
The delegates to the conference are drawn from Government and the private sector. Amongst others, a number of ministers, chief executive officers of private and Government-owned enterprises, and regional governors are attending the event.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Secretary General of the Namibia Employers Federation (NEF) Tim Parkhouse said the two days they set aside to discuss and develop plans to create full and sustainable employment should not be wasted.
Employers employ people, and it is critical for employers to be able to do just that. We want to employ more people, we want more foreign companies to come here and employ more Namibians, but if we make it complicated to start a business, too complicated to run a business, then local entrepreneurs would not expand and potential foreign companies would not come here, he warned.
Parkhouse said another issue which is extremely serious is that the current labour dispute resolution process is not working. He said this is one of the areas where trade unions and employers agree.
Now is the hour for us to decide on concrete steps to go forward to once-and-for-all address the issue of sustainable employment creation. If we dont do it now, at this hour, when will we? he asked.