By Fifi Rhodes WINDHOEK Deputy Education Minister, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, says the high jobless rate is not due to a lack of jobs, but to a skills deficit among job-seekers. “There are jobs or employment opportunities on the one hand, and a lack of an adequately skilled and trained labour force on the other, who are desperately looking for jobs for which they have no skills,” she said at a recent event. Ndjoze-Ojo, who spoke at the 8th graduation ceremony of the Windhoek Vocational Training Center (WVTC) said this is where the various vocational training centres should handle, tackle and in consultation with the private sector resolve it. “There is thus a serious skills deficiency that is not appropriately and relevantly aligned to the labour market, and vocational training is the answer,” she told guests and the 114 graduates. She told the gathering that government is proud of an institution like WVTC that serves a very important purpose of providing skill-based and vocational-orientated training rather than pure academic tendencies. “The WVTC is an indispensable institution that is not only important but that shall become most relevant in the future if we are to produce artisans to support our projected industrial base for Vision 2030. The industrial revolution was based on a strong foundation of artisans as an invaluable support to engineers and other industrialists,” she said. There is a greater need for curriculum diversification so that vocational training becomes part and parcel of the education system rather than the exception for those who do not excel academically, she told the gathering. “The major tool in this empowerment process has to be the vocational training and skills development centers. I urge the private sector to get actively involved in vocational training to ensure their industries are equipped with adequately trained artisans,” she noted. The education system must in consultation with all relevant stakeholders find the right balance between the academic versus the vocational because both are equally important. “The crucial importance of vocational education and training is to equip people with marketable skills especially those in the private sector that cannot be overemphasized.” Inspiring graduates, Ndjoze-Ojo said that her ministry is currently developing the capabilities and competencies needed to make a contribution to the economic growth of the country. “The education system is required to address and redress the gross inequalities of the past which led to Namibia being described as one of the most unequal societies in the world. “You have spent three to four years here – now it’s time to demonstrate the skills you have required. Your performance in this world should reveal the value of your training. Grab opportunities with both hands,” she urged the newly trained artisans. She said government firmly believes that investing in people is an empowering and facilitating tool that assists people to be self-reliant and to build a brighter future for all. “The government spends more money on education as to other needs and therefore expects a return on its investments. You have to work hard as if tomorrow is too late because if we don’t do it like that, then Vision 2030 will be a dream. We must always be in a hurry,” she told the 144 graduates. Ndjoze-Ojo further called on the ones not yet employed to try their best to become employers rather than job-seekers. Ndjoze-Ojo told the house that no contribution is too small. “Each and everyone counts and together we can all make a difference. It is my sincere trust that the small seeds sown here today and the products we all witnessed receiving their diplomas and certificates will continue to prosper for the overall wellbeing of our nation as we prepare ourselves to realise Vision 2030 to become an industrialised, prosperous and united nation that is prepared to develop and tap into the potentials of its citizenry,” she said as she wished them success.