Retail workers also need academic training – unionist

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Swakopmund

Namibian institutions of higher learning should formulate courses that would allow employees in the retail and wholesale industry to get recognition and much-needed qualifications.

According to the secretary general of the Namibia Wholesale and Retail Workers Union (NWRWU), Victor Hamunyela, no such courses are being offered in Namibia and this forces many Namibians employed in the retail sector to stagnate in poorly paid positions.

He says opportunities should be created for those employed in the two sectors to improve themselves, instead of staying as cashiers and shelf-packers for the rest of their lives. Hamunyela was speaking at the opening of their new union offices in Swakopmund last week.

According to him, courses are being developed even for nail technicians, but not for retail workers. “There are courses on offer even for those doing nails. Why can’t we do the same with the wholesale and retail sector? Some of these people have more than 20 years of experience, but when it’s time for them to seek employment they are asked for qualifications, which they don’t have. This is clearly one aspect we must address urgently.”

He further said the industry employs about 23 000 people and it is thus sad to see that they don’t have a career path, let alone the prospect of promotion due to the lack of qualifications. “They only rely on the experience they gained over the years, despite yearning for better qualifications,” he further stated.

It is understood that such courses are available only in South Africa. However, those who are interested in pursuing recognised qualifications say it is all but impossible to do so due to the fact that most of them are breadwinners and cannot simply leave their families in the lurch.

Also speaking at the same event, South African trade unionist Malose Kutumela encouraged workers to dream big and pursue their dreams. “Yes, you can start as a cleaner, but should not remain that. Do not get comfortable in your current positions. Work your way up. Get a qualification that will enable you to provide a better future for your family. Be a cashier now, but become an auditor,” he said.

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