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Vocational training is not simply a public sector problem – it affects the private sector as well, and the private sector should step up to the plate to do its part.
That is why Trustco’s Institute for Open Learning has been developing its own Vocational Training Centres over the past few years, with the first one having commenced operations in January 2018. With Namibia’s youth unemployment at 43.4%, it should have been no surprise when President Hage Geingob noted in his State of the Nation address at the beginning of the year that the development of job skills through quality vocational training is a priority for Namibia. Vocational training is key to not only the Harambee Prosperity Plan, but also the Fifth National Development Plan as well as the country’s Vision 2030 objectives. Vocational training has historically carried a bit of a stigma, as it’s not focused on academic studies, but rather on occupational skills. As a result, it has oft times been neglected in favour of a university education.
Here in Namibia, however, we can see the effect that has had on the labour market. The world has changed, and so too has vocational training. Jobs has become more specialised, with specific skill set needed for industrialised economies, and the lack of those skills in the labour market has led to countries such as ours having to import those skills from countries such as China, which had maintained extensive vocational training in its labour force.
The Namibia Training Authority has been trying to stem this tide with the development of Vocational Training Centres across the country, but it has been an uphill battle. With over 60 000 youth applying to these centres, the NTA ran out of capacity, and could only accommodate 20 000.
This capacity problem will likely not end anytime soon, as between 8 000 and 12 000 Grade 10 students leave the education system and try to enter the job market each year. Even private sector, however, needs to be registered with the NTA to ensure that the courses offered are up to standard, and IOL has been diligently pursuing that for its own VTC. As such, their centre has been audited during the year by both the Ministry of Labour and the NTA for compliance, and by the end of November, not only had the IOL VTC received a compliance certificate from the Ministry of Labour, but also had its registration approved by the NTA.
With the IOL VTC now fully integrated with national development guidelines, its students can also access funding from the NTA as well as the Namibian Student Financial Assistance Fund. Now Trustco’s Institute for Open Learning is not only contributing to reducing the mismatch of skills supply and labour demand in our country, but it’s paving the way for entrepreneurial growth in its students and leading the way for private sector involvement in addressing the capacity problem experienced in technical and vocational education and training.