Lack of skilled labour of grave concern
The scarcity of skilled labour is the main challenge to business growth in Namibia. This is according to the findings of the 2012 Namibian Business and Investment Climate (NamBic) survey, which was launched on Wednesday this week. Klaus Schade from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), who gave a presentation on the survey, pointed out that “the lack of skilled labour remains a major concern for the formal sector.”
The lack of skilled labour is of great concern to both the formal and informal sectors, according to the survey.
According to the survey, the lack of skills is of great concern to both the formal and informal sectors. “Obtaining work permits for skilled foreign nationals remains the biggest challenge for all respondents, but in particular for small companies. Establishing a business has also become more challenging now compared with the previous year for all respondents, while enforcing contracts is not a serious concern, even for the informal businesses as indicated in the previous survey. Access to serviced land remains a significant challenge for all,
while access to unserviced land improved slightly compared to the previous survey,” the NamBic report states.
Respondents to the survey recommended that business and employers’ associations identify the skills that are needed most urgently and prepare a priority list for the importation of skills. This list should then be discussed with the Ministry of Trade and Industry as well as trade unions. Once agreed upon, this list must be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration for preferential treatment. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration previously set itself a target of reviewing work visa applications within 60 days by 2014 instead of 90 days, but this target has been removed from the latest Medium Term Plan contained in the Mid-term Expenditure Framework for 2012/2013 to 2014/2015.
The survey suggested that it is best to import skills not readily available in the local market while long term measures are being put into place. The NamBic survey further suggested that more should be invested in vocational training centres and on-the-job training in order to train individuals in the fields that are in demand.
“Since it cannot be expected that tertiary institutions provide all the skills needed by the private and public sectors, the public sector, parastatals and the private sector have to combine efforts to train people on the job through, for instance, apprenticeship and attachment programmes,” the report states.
The survey also suggested that the private sector design special programmes that offer school leavers with an opportunity to acquire skills that are in demand. In addition to this, responses from the business community indicated that there is currently no one-stop centre for all investors whether domestic or foreign, neither is there a website that provides all the necessary information and application forms for investors.
The establishment of such a one-stop shop should become a priority for the Ministry of Trade and Industry in order to provide comprehensive information in a professional manner and speed up the registration process for companies, the survey suggested.