Today marks the World Youth Skills Day as proclaimed by the United Nations in December 2014.
Amidst a global youth unemployment crisis that is disrupting and dragging down advanced, emerging, and developing economies alike, it is meant to leverage resources, integrate youth to important decision-making and raise awareness about youth unemployment.
UN member countries, Namibia included, observe the day this year under the theme: “Skills Rule The World.” According to the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi, the theme is very appropriate in celebrating the importance of technical and vocational skills in everyday life.
“Too often, people take technical and vocational skills for granted. We know skills make everything possible. Whether it is the electrician that brings us power, the chef that prepares an inspired meal, or the programmer that makes magic out of code, skills rule our everyday life. Indeed, skills rule the world,” the Minister says.
Dr. Kandjii-Murangi also highlights the importance of technical and vocational training in Namibia’s socio-economic development and in youth taking up such career paths.
“There has never been a more important time to focus on youth skills. While it is increasingly recognised that qualified technical and vocational practitioners should drive our country’s economic development, as per the Harambee Prosperity Plan and our National Development Plans, youth unemployment lingers at alarming levels. Technical and vocational training can help us to overcome this challenge, because it can empower young Namibians to become job creators, and not job seekers”, she notes.
However, the Higher Education, Training and Innovation Minister highlights perception about technical and vocational careers as a key challenge in this regard.
“The unfair societal bias against technical and vocational career paths as a dead-end option fit for only the academically less-endowed is dysfunctional and destructive to our children who should have the opportunity to be trained in whatever skills their natural gifts and preferences lead them to”, Dr. Kandjii-Murangi highlights.
“My message to Namibians on this important day is therefore, that as teachers, parents, guardians and community and traditional leaders, we must put and end to this unfair stereotyping. It is destructive to us as a country, as many of the skills most needed to compete in the global market of the 21st century are skills that fall into the technical and vocational training domain. The absence of such skills has cost us, and is continuing to cost us economically as a nation”, she explains.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Matthias Schlaga says his country, as an international leader in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) field, continues to prioritise the improvement of its TVET system to ensure its industry-relevance and applicability.
“Germany is renowned the world over for its workplace driven TVET system, which has been a major factor in our industrial success over the past six decades. Our youth employment rate is among the highest not only in Europe. The holistic approach of the TVET system and its high quality made it an export success, too. Countries all over the world model their TVET systems on ours, which involves both in-company training and education at vocational schools”, Ambassador Schlaga highlights.
“Content and training methods are jointly determined by the industry and training colleges to reflect current vocational practice and ensure a successful mix of theory and practice. Each year, some 60 percent of German school-leavers choose to enter the “dual system”, ensuring that in Germany young people are integrated into the labour force with a degree of success almost unparalleled in Europe,” further explained Schlaga.The diplomat highlights that through his country’s bilateral ties with Namibia, Germany is focusing on improving the standard of living of all Namibians within the priority areas of natural resource management, transport, economic development and employable youth through modern vocational training.
“All these areas contain a large number of educational and vocational training measures. Germany is indeed supporting Namibia in the establishment of a demand-oriented and high quality TVET system. Through the Promotion of Vocational Education and Training (ProVET) project, which is a joint project between the Namibia Training Authority and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf the Federal Republic of Germany, support is rendered to build local TVET capacities, increase the number of highly trained skilled youth and create more favourable conditions for entrepreneurial activity in Namibia,” he says.
Ambassador Schlaga expresses hope that the excellent bilateral ties and encompassing development cooperation between the two countries, will continue to add value to strengthening the Namibian TVET system. “Germany has contributed decisively to the development of Namibia and will continue to do so. We congratulate the Namibian government, the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation and the Namibia Training Authority for the excellent progress in establishing an industry-driven local TVET system, which is needed to fast-track the development of Namibia, and its most important resource, its people,” he says.
“It takes time. Germany’s dual system has been established over centuries and is still adapting to ever changing framework conditions. We are working with our implementation and cooperation to ensure that principles of our system are established within and aligned to the Namibian environment,” noted the German Ambassador.Internationally, World Youth Skills Day is commemorated through a social media campaign, spearheaded by the United Nations International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (UNEVOC), which has its headquarters in Bonn, Germany. The campaign invites TVET practitioners the world over to join the celebrations by sharing articles, photos or images of youth skills development in action by using the hashtag #WYSD on social media.
Namibia, through the Namibia Training Authority, is a member of UNEVOC. The centre assists member states to develop policies and practices concerning education for the world of work, skills development and employability to enhance access to high quality and relevant training programmes and learning opportunities throughout life.
Parallel to the World Youth Skills Day celebrations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will also launch the UN’s newly-adopted Strategy for TVET (2016-2021), which focuses on youth skills development in three priority areas: fostering youth employment and entrepreneurship; promoting equity and gender equality; and facilitating transition to green economies and sustainable societies.