Today New Era continues with our coverage of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) with a closer look at Pillar 3: Social Progression. The third focal point in this pillar is Vocational Education and Training (VET).
VET is steadily emerging as a global frontrunner in driving national development agendas, and features prominently in the strategic and operational priorities of regional economic communities and multilateral organisations, including that of the African Union (AU), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The rationale to prioritise and invest in VET is strong and convincing and stems from the recognition of VET as a source of skills, knowledge and technology needed to drive productivity in knowledge-based and transitional societies for the 21st century.
VET is further accorded a high premium because of its potential to equip citizens with job/work-ready skills and for its potential to deal with the global challenges of youth employability and unemployment. Productivity is the basis for sustained economic growth and wealth accumulation. For Namibia to improve its global competitiveness, it is important that our citizens have the required technical and vocational skills.
According to the Harambee Plan, developed economies were not built by PhD holders, but by craftsmen and artisans. We cannot expect to develop if we do not have these skills. Research shows that there is a huge deficit in vocational skills in the labour market. Moreover, people with vocational skills tend to be more entrepreneurial and through appropriate supportive interventions may even set up their own small businesses, thereby employing others and contribute to job creation.
Vocational training is not meant for so called dropouts, or those that fail to get admitted to universities. It is promoted because it is the backbone of our economic development. It is, therefore, not an inferior skill but one highly rated. Vocational education training will be prioritised in line with core skills needs identified as per the National Skills Development Plan. The desired outcomes with respect to vocational education and training during the Harambee period will be to increase the number of qualified VET trainers from 15 000 in 2015 to 25 000 by 2020; to improve the quality of VET; to improve the image of VET nationwide; and to speed up VET refunds to the private sector who train their employees.
To ensure that the goal of vocational skills development is achieved, the following strategies and actions will be deployed during the Harambee period:
Vocational Education Training Expansion: Under VET expansion we will in 2016 develop a VET expansion master plan to have a footprint of vocational skills development centres in all 14 regions. Following a pre-feasibility study that was carried out in 2015/16, the full feasibility study will be ready before September 2016. The plan is to refurbish an existing building in the Kunene Region for use as a VTC. In Year 2 and 3 of Harambee we will construct new centres in Nkurenuru and in Omuthiya.
Recognition of prior learning: We will roll out the recognition of prior learning services nationally to certify skills of citizens acquired through work experience in the informal sector. Our immediate target is to have 2 000 candidates certified in Year 1 of Harambee.
Improve quality of VET provision: To improve the quality of VET provision we will train 200 instructors/ trainers that will also undergo compulsory industry attachments; we will develop in 2017 a national policy for VET practitioners, including assessors, moderators, verifiers and instructional designers; and we will enter into bilateral agreements to source trainers from Cuba, Germany and Spain.
Improve the image of VET: We will adopt technical and vocational education and training [TVET] as the standardised international training convention. We will rename VTCs as technical and vocational training colleges by 2017 and will stage a national vocational education and training skills competition bi-annually to promote VET as a sub-sector of choice.
Apprenticeship and funding: We will initiate more apprenticeship opportunities for VET graduates, with the first apprenticeship programme scheduled to be rolled out this year. In addition, graduates with good business propositions will be assisted – to the extent feasible – to start their own businesses.
In our next edition we will continue unpacking the Harambee Prosperity Plan by taking a closer look at Pillar 4: Infrastructure Development.