Vocational Training Is Vital – PM

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By Petronella Sibeene SWAKOPMUND Prime Minister Nahas Angula has emphasized the need for stakeholders in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system to seriously provide productive skills to the disadvantaged and marginalized groups of society to curb the worrying high unemployment rate among the youth. The high unemployment rate among the youth in most countries, including Namibia, remains a growing challenge mainly brought about, among others, by school leavers’ lack of access to further education and training. “The youth unemployment challenge must be viewed against a backdrop of the shortage of middle-level technical skills,” said Angula. Instead of just training for the modern industry, the Prime Minister reiterated, vocational training centres should battle youth unemployment, and training should be directed towards development and growth of self-employment, and the informal and SME sectors. This is likely to result in balanced social and economic development, he added. Namibia is described as a middle-income country with per capita income of US$2 000. Because of that, the country receives less if no development aid from any donor country or institution abroad. This has put the country at a disadvantage, because despite being disqualified from receiving such support, there are a lot of areas that need urgent attention in order to bring about economic development. Angula says the notion that Namibia is a better off country has negative effects and the only solution that could be relied upon for the economy to grow would be skills development. “We should give high priority to vocational training. There is a great need for a skilled labour force and technical and vocational training is the answer,” the Premier stated. One way Namibia has responded to the need for skills development is through the establishment of the Foundation for Community Skills Development that has created a network of centres (COSDECs). With the youth unemployment rate in the country standing at over 37%, the centres are proving popular with the youth. Angula, who yesterday officially opened the 4th Annual Technical and Vocational Education and Training conference in Swakopmund, said the event is important to the country as it will through various inputs of the 180 educational experts from 17 countries add value to the current government’s efforts to develop the TVET system. The TVET reforms under the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP) include, among others, the legal establishment and operationalization of the Namibia Training Authority, diversification of TVET to cover all other occupations not only the blue-collar trades, and the introduction of a flexible, demand-driven and market-oriented competency based system that caters for all target groups including the marginalized and those already in employment. “Your coming here is a plus to the country’s efforts to be innovative … because we rely on ourselves and that is the plight of Namibia,” he added. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister called on the private sector to participate in TVET initiatives. Without the support of the private sector, he added, government cannot realize its developmental goals. Just like it has done with the other national development plans, the private sector can similarly play a key role in the planning and implementation of TVET reforms. Angula acknowledged that government resources alone will never be adequate for the development of an effective, modern and dynamic TVET system. This sector contributes both financially and through the provision of facilities and other services. Besides, the realization of the country’s Vision 2030 and the National Development Plans’ success depends largely on the active participation of all sectors of the economy. Education and Training sector is no exception. The conference that ends today reviewed the status and the role of the private sector in TVET. Among other issues deliberated upon was how best role-players in the sector can align training with the world of work to ensure that vocational training is precisely suited to the skilled labour requirements of both the private and public sectors. Under the theme, “Maximizing Effectiveness of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET)”, the conference was attended by delegates from Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany.