As of 2018, Namibia had about 22 accredited vocational training centres (VTCs), some of which are owned by the government and others privately owned.
Although the Namibian government seems to have recognised the Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a source of skills, knowledge and technology needed to drive the productivity and economic transformation as outlined in President Geingob’s Harambee Prosperity Plan, TVET trainees in Namibia are still left to the periphery and their significance has not really been fully embraced.
For TVET trainees/artisans to be able to play their role effectively, it is important for government - through the Ministry of Higher Education, Innovation and Training - to ensure that there exits an enabling and TVET friendly environment in the whole country.
Such an enabling environment can be achieved by putting in place harmonised national TVET policies, provision of adequate opportunities to the trainees to study and trade and developing positive public attitude towards the capability of these trainees.
Since majority of trainees get funding from government (through NSFAF), the ministry of higher education can work hand in hand with the Ministry of works and Transport, which is arguably the largest ministry in the country that develops and manages the government’s infrastructures - to make it compulsory for the trainees to trade at government institution as part of their training.
This means, for example, that bricklayers build government schools, hostels, teachers’ accommodation, hospitals and clinics just to mention but a few. The electrical trainees must wire these buildings, refrigeration students install and service air conditions not only of these buildings but even for all the government office buildings countrywide. The welding and carpenters would be sent to government institutions such as schools and hospitals to renovate/fix broken chairs, tables, beds and other furniture. Mechanical students are sent to ministries and agencies to service, repair government vehicles and so forth, of course under the supervision of the qualified artisans.
The trainee can be paid a reasonable fee per the determined payment model but the main aim is to equip them with practical skills and hands-on experience. By the end of their training it should also be ensured that TVET graduates are capacitated, mentored or provided with financial support to start businesses, while at the same time there is model developed for those not willing to go into business (self-employed) to be retained into the government to help do the construction, renovation and maintenance works.
This model would save the government a lot of money compared to doing all the construction works through tenders where prices are usually exaggerated. For other construction works that are over and above the capacity of our trainees, it should be made compulsory that if a private construction company wins a government tender they must use the services of the TVET trainees where possible.
Such an embedding vocational training and apprenticeship would end in a win-win situation for both the government and the trainees. Developed countries that have embedded system of vocational training and apprenticeship such as Austria, Germany and the UK have been successful in maintaining low youth unemployment rate which is a dream yet to come true in the Land of the Brave.
Another significant advantage is that government would not necessarily need to spend a lot of money on inflated tenders, which only benefits the privileged few, to build schools, hospitals and other related infrastructures. Government should always think of returns on its investment.
It pays for the students’ education and creates an enabling environment for them to practice what they have earned through apprenticeship at relatively affordable price. This process warrants returns on its investment.
* Julius Homateni Lukas is a lecturer at the University of Namibia.
New Era Reporter
2019-02-01 10:00:00 15 days ago