By Anna Ingwafa
About 100 students of Valombola Vocation Training Center (VVTC) in Ongwediva graduated in various areas of training over the weekend in Oshakati under the theme, “The contribution that vocational education and training can make to poverty reduction and the successful attainment of Vision 2030.”
The trainees were conferred with diplomas and national certificates in various trades.
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Theopolina Mushelenga, on behalf of Minister Dr Hage Geingob, congratulated the graduates on reaching the milestone in their lives. She encouraged them to not to stop there but to continue studying as far as their potential can take them.
“It may be that we have scientists, inventors, engineers and the like inside you who is waiting for the appropriate opportunity to come out. Therefore, do not allow circumstances, scarcity of funds and similar distractions to hinder you from fully pursuing and developing the hidden talents in your brains.”
She said the Government is not only happy with the trainee’s fist step towards full absorption into the Namibian economy, but is eager to see the graduates playing a meaningful role in the development of the Namibian economy, particularly the realization of government development plans such as NDP 111 and Vision 2030, with regard to the creation of a prosperous and fully industrialized country.
“Namibia is in great need of skilled labour in the areas of engineering, artisans, metallurgists, medical doctors, accountants and many more, without which our nation will not be able to overcome the development challenges of poverty, under-development, ignorance, disease and so forth.”
Mushelenga noted that education is the most basic and accessible means through which people should lift their communities and families out of the scourge of poverty and diseases such as HIV/Aids, which easily beset the youth because they are not focused in terms of prioritizing education.
She called upon the youths of Oshana in particular to dedicate themselves to prioritize education and abstain from alcohol abuse, criminal activities and unwanted pregnancies, so that they can become tomorrow the political leaders, business people, teachers, soldiers and doctors in order to build up the country.
According to Mushelenga, the realization of Namibia’s Vision 2030 heavily depends on the adoption of a more pro-technology and knowledge-based approach to resource utilization and production.
With knowledgeable, skilled and entrepreneurial artisans, technicians and engineers backed by proper management capacities, the country will manage to realize its development aspirations. She mentioned that the training budget that goes to education represents an increasing percentage of overall government expenditure for many developed countries, with the bulk of funds being spent on research and innovation.
“I am happy to share with you that Namibia since its independence has been spending a major part of its budget on enhancing the capacity of education to ensure that education institutions, particularly technical institutes and vocational training centres, would render valuable contributions to the productivity of the country through the provision of skilled labour,” she said.
Recently President Pohamba approved a bill to establish the Namibian Training Authority (NTA) to further enhance vocational education and training in the country, through support involving even the private sector.
“This bill will not only streamline the management of vocational training and education but is also to ensure that the right type of skills in quantities required by the economy are produced by our training institutions. The ultimate desired intention of this Bill is to improve the quality of our vocational trainees and hence the emphasis is on competency-based training, which will provide the necessary skills appropriate for the market,” she said.
The end result is expected to be that the vocational training standard will be comparable, if not more competent, with those provided in the countries with which Namibia is competing for trade and investment, to grow its economy and create wealth for its citizens.
Mushelenga further explained that the other government policy programmes are designed to improve education and training in the entire country, for example, the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP).
She urged trainees to contemplate establishing small and medium businesses and provide the necessary services such as plumbing, electrical, mechanical and similar trades to communities where such services are in demand.
“Unemployment is a major challenge, and only those who exhibit superior skill and positive attitude will be able to secure employment in this dynamic and competitive world of formal employment. I want to encourage the graduates that self-employment is an option and could even be a better option for those with an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Mushelenga assured the graduates that her ministry is tasked with the mandate of assisting SMEs to establish and grow in Namibia, so that the country’s wealth can become evenly distributed.
“I advise those of you who have business ideas to approach our regional offices that are operating throughout the country and even in the Oshana Region, to further assist and advise you on how to get started as a businessman or woman.”