There are telltale signs of a labour mismatch between the skills of prospective employees and the needs of the labour market, according to the latest employment figures released this week by the Namibia Statistics Agency.
However, the statistics agency reports that over-education as an investment in future earning ability can be considered as temporary and may not require policy interventions.
The agency warned that policy makers will have to focus on reducing the incidence of over-education and the resultant mismatch, which reduces workers welfare and in the long run harms employers’ interests.
The exact extent of skills mismatch in the labour market is unknown. The agency described the situation using the proportions of unemployed versus employed, the variation of relative unemployment rates, the mismatch by occupation, and relative wages by education levels.
The mismatch by occupation is higher in men while under-education is relatively high in women. The acting Statistician General, Sikongo Haihambo, said that understanding the patterns, structure and causes of youth un-employment is essential for designing appropriate policy interventions.
Educational mismatch has negative consequences on wages as a wage penalty for those over-educated as opposed to being under-educated. An under-educated person does not possess skills required for a given job, while an over-educated person is someone who has skills beyond what is required for the position at hand.
Haihambo said that the analysis also focused on youth not in employment and not in education or training, classified by the same demographic differences.
The data suggests that unemployed men have an education profile which is different from that of the employed population in general. The mismatch among women might be due to the job searching behaviour since many women are not actively looking for work or do not generally form part of the labour force.
Another study commissioned by the Namibia Employers Federation in 2010 and executed by the Institute of Public Policy Research, predicted that five years later there would still be a skills gap of degreed professionals and special skills jobs.