Knowledge & Youth Unemployment in Namibia

Contributed by Foibe Shaambeni

Many organisations have realised that the most important asset to an organisation is people and their knowledge. Today it is widely acknowledged that knowledge is one of the most important resources in an organisation.  This article will therefore concentrate on how knowledge management can be applied to improve the burden of youth unemployment in Namibia. The concept of knowledge management and youth unemployment will be clearly defined in this article. I will also explain how Namibia is currently dealing with the issue of unemployment as well as how knowledge management can be applied to deal with youth unemployment in Namibia.

Knowledge management

Knowledge management is defined as the process of creating value from an organisation’s tangible assets (Liebowitz 2005). Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) described knowledge management as the process which involves the management of explicit and tacit knowledge. Knowledge management can also be defined as “the discipline of creating a thriving work and learning environment that foster the continuous creation, aggregation, use and re-use of both organisational and personal knowledge in the pursuit of new business value” (Cross,1995). Relating to the above definitions of knowledge management, one can clearly see that knowledge management is an on-going process that entail effective learning processes associated with exploring and exploiting as well as well as sharing of tacit and explicit knowledge through the use of appropriate technology to enhance the organisation’s performance.

Youth unemployment

The term unemployment is defined by the International Labour Organisation as “all those without a job, who are available for work, and are looking for work.

Initially, youth unemployment has been identified as one of the biggest challenge in many countries — both developing and developed (Namibia Labour Force Survey Report, 2008). Namibia has a very small population of 2113077, and half of the population (50.3%) are below 19 years of age, making the population of Namibia a very young one (Census Report, 2011). Unemployment is a very big challenge in Namibia. Eventually, the high rate of unemployment in Namibia has been a major challenge to the government since independence. The table below shows the rate of unemployment for the year 1997, 2000, and 2004 and 2011.

Year 1997 2000 2004 2011
Unemployment rate 52.1% 56.3% 54.4% 51.2%

Source: Namibia Labour Force Survey 1997, 2000, 2004 & 2011

Apart from the 51,2 % rate of youth unemployment that was released recently by the Namibian Labour Force Survey, the Namibian census report for 2011 has also revealed that unemployment rate in Namibia is currently standing at 36.9 % or 312503 people. Even though the figures released by the Namibian census are a bit lower than the one released by the labour force survey, unemployment is still relatively high.

How is Namibia dealing with youth unemployment?

Since youth unemployment is a major obstacle for the economic growth of Namibia, the government of Namibia has decided to implement different initiation to improve youth unemployment in the country. Such initiations are explained below:

National Youth Service (NYS)

The main focus of this initiative is to recruit young school leavers from all over the country. This initiative offers skills training for school leavers who do not qualify for further studies at institutions of higher learning . The objective of the National Youth Service is to create a platform for unity, cultural exchange, nationhood, patriotism, harmony and discipline (NEPRU, 2005).

Multipurpose Youth Centres (MYC)

Multipurpose Youth Centres has been established in different regions in Namibia. They focus on providing training aimed at developing skills in basic computer, tailoring and gymnastics, with the hope to increase marketability (NEPRU, 2005).

Target Intervention Program for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG).

Given the 51% unemployment figures by the Ministry of Labour, the Namibian government implemented TIPEEG in 2010. The main focus of TIPEEG is to create short to medium term jobs in Namibia. It was also implemented to address the high unemployment rate while supporting strategic economic sector.

Training Youth for Sustainable Livelihood in Rural Namibia

This initiative was established to help the Youth Development Directorate to deal with the problem of the urban migration. This initiative focus mainly on curriculum development, training, volunteer leadership development, village youth club organisation and small enterprise development (Nepru, 2003)

Junior Achievement Namibia (JAN)

This initiative focused mainly on a programme that teaches the youth self-employment skills by offering them business and economic related education through practical entrepreneurial projects. Since its inception, Junior Achievement has been running its programme with several high schools, university and vocational training centres in Namibia. Junior Achievement has been identified as a tool for youth empowerment as it prepares young people on how to develop and manage their businesses. Through this programme, students can form a company and agree upon a product or service to offer. Students have raised enough capital to start their own business, develop and market their products and wisely their human and capital resources (JAN, 2002).

National Youth Council (NYC)

The NYC was implemented to advise the ministry of youth on developmental and youth issues. The council was established in 1994 and it operates in six key areas: employment, promotion and environmental awareness, youth health and welfare; networking; youth exchange and international relations as well as information technology and media (NEPRU, 2005). Youth Employment Network (YEN) initiative is backed by two UN resolutions which support and promote national level strategies for youth employment. The initiative was launched in 2002 focusing on self-employment, renewable energy, micro-credit scheme, mentorship programme and capacity building training workshop (NEPRU, 2005). Although the above initiatives are all intended to reduce youth unemployment, there is enough evidence on the ground showing that they did not yield positive results as the rate of unemployment remains stubbornly high, calling the intervention of knowledge management, which might improve this situation.

What knowledge management can do to improve youth unemployment in Namibia?

The government of the Republic of Namibia should embark on knowledge exchange and knowledge sharing in the country. The above mentioned initiatives must embrace and stimulate an environment of curiosity, they have to be playgrounds of knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing has become so important that many accept that the success of knowledge management in an organisation depends on effective knowledge sharing practices (Bhirud, Rodrigues & Desai, 2005).  Knowledge sharing is defined by International Labour Organisation (2007) as “ the process that connects people with what they need”. Jashapara (2004) define knowledge sharing as the deliberate act in which knowledge is made reusable through its transfer from one party to another. The Republic of Namibia acknowledge the importance of knowledge in the society as it is stipulated in Vision 2030 that by the year 2030 Namibia must be an industrialised and a knowledge-based economy. There are many different ways where knowledge exchange and knowledge sharing can be applied to ensure that the aim of knowledge management is fulfilled.

Community of Practice (CoP)

Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problem, or a passion about a topic and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area on an on-going basis (Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder 2002). The benefit of the community of practice entail improvement in productivity, reduction in costs, improvements in both speed and quality of work, better decision making, greater collaboration and teamwork.


1. Bihrud, S., Rodrigues, L., Desai, P. (2005). Knowledge sharing practices in KM: a case study in Indian software subsidiary. Journal of knowledge management practices. 6 (6):1-3.

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3. Haapalainen, P & Mäkiranta, A. (2013). Acquiring and sharing knowledge in SMEs: a case in the manufacturing industry. Journal of Knowledge Management Practice. 14 (1) 3-5.

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6. Jashapara, A. (2004). Knowledge management: an integrated approach. England: Pearson Education Limited.

7. Junior Achievement Namibia. (n.d). Out of school programmes. Available from:

8. Liebowitz, J. (2005). Conceptualising and implementing knowledge management. Management of knowledge in Project Environments, 1-18, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

9. National Planning Commision. (2011). Target intervention program for employment and economic growth. Available from:  

10. NEPRU. (2005). The youth employment challenge in Southern Africa- policy responses and programmes targeting young women and men at the national level. National report paper in Namibia. Windhoek: NEPRU.

11. NEPRU. (2005). Background paper for employment creation policy. Windhoek: NEPRU.

12. Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge creation company: how the Japanese companies create the dynamic of innovation. Oxford University Press.

13. Wenger, E. C., Mcdermott, R., and Snyder, W.M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.


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