WINDHOEK - Stereotypes, bias, stigma and misunderstanding continue to isolate career options in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) domain.
According to Mornay Louw, Manager: Corporate Communications, Marketing and Advocacy of the Namibia Training Authority (NTA), children continue to be influenced that such options are low-status, low-paying and dirty jobs, which generally offer little prospects for career advancement and growth.
“We live in a society that places a high value on professional jobs. It’s no surprise that parents want their children to pursue popular careers in areas such as law, medicine and engineering, which will maintain or increase this status. Often, we encounter learners at career fairs who confide that what they enjoyed doing most was working with their hands, whether on engines, electrical circuits, hair, or doing therapeutic massage. They also confide that there was no way they could ever tell their parents that they’d rather pursue one of these occupations, than enroll for a professional or business career at university,” Louw shares.
As part of their shared endeavour to promote technical and vocational options, the ministry of higher education and the NTA partnered with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation and New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC) in 2016, and implemented a very successful multi-media advocacy campaign under the theme ‘Live Your Passion’.
Through the campaign, 24 technical and vocational graduates were profiled as successful career practitioners. One such story was that of Parastus Nepolo, an air conditioning graduate of the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre, who soon after graduating, and driven by the desire to be his own boss, trusted that inner voice and went with his gut in registering his company, Millennium Refrigeration & Electrical.
Today, this business employs about 120 people and specialises in the installation of domestic and industrial air conditioning and refrigeration systems, cold-freezer rooms and electric and solar networks.
Considering the campaign’s impact, the partners have embarked on the production of a second season, which is to be launched by the higher education minister, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi, this evening. “With the generous support of the European Union, we have been able to film and capture the inspiring stories of another batch of 20 graduates who overcame obstacles and defied the odds in establishing themselves as ambassadors for technical and vocational career options, and who are today making a difference in the lives of others,” Louw notes.
“The first season has proven highly impactful and the strategic application of television and social media platforms have ensured that we reach out to young people across the country, through media platforms they prefer,” Louw explains. “Other than the scheduled weekly broadcasts on Tuesdays, the stories will also be captured in the New Era’s Youth Corner section on Wednesdays. The content can also be accessed through the campaign’s YouTube channel,” he adds.
At the launch this evening, the campaign content of the first season, which has been consolidated in booklet and DVD formats, will be handed to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, for further distribution to schools across the country. “This ensures that the campaign message reaches all parts of our country. Very soon, all the campaign content will also be readily accessible through a comprehensive portal on the NTA’s website. We call on teachers and parents to access these resource platforms and partner us in sharing this important message,” Louw emphasises.
“Learners who don’t excel in academic areas, or who have little interest in them, should not meet with disappointment or disapproval. The key message we convey under the ‘Live Your Passion’ advocacy campaign is to say that many of the skills needed to compete in the global market fall within the technical and vocational remit. And the absence of such skills is also costing us economically, as a country,” Louw highlights.
Asked about whether the campaign deliberately undermines professional career options by pitting the more popular white-collar career options against technical and vocational jobs, Louw responded that the campaign’s intent is about making sure that young people know that there are other options they can consider.
“The best way to fix this is with information that not only empowers our children with knowledge to broaden their opportunities and take control of their future career decisions, but information that challenges headmasters, teachers, parents and business and community leaders alike, to think differently about technical and vocational jobs,” he explains.
“Perception is feelings-based, not logical, making it very difficult and challenging to overcome. As such, we still have a long way to go in changing the negative perception and to get the public to think differently about such career options. It starts with parents taking a true interest in identifying and nurturing the unique talents of their children from an early age and supporting them to pursue these talents towards qualifying in a wide range of viable and high-demand technical and vocational career options,” Louw concludes.
2019-07-03 09:33:07 19 days ago