Valombola Vocational Training Center (VVTC) won fourteen medals during the inaugural WorldSkills Namibia’s National Skills Competition and Exposition at Ramatex.
Among the medals scooped on Saturday were six gold, four bronze and four silver and VVTC also took the President’s Cup to Ongwediva.
Hot on their heels was NamWater that won five medals of which three were gold and two were silver, and the water utility also scooped the Prime Minister’s Cup.
Zambezi Vocational Training College was third with four and one silver medal, and it was awarded the cup that was sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, followed by Windhoek Vocational Training College that bagged two silver and two bronze medals. One hundred and seventeen competitors competed in ten skill areas: automotive technology; bricklaying; carpentry; cooking; electrical installation; joinery; plumbing and heating; refrigeration and air-conditioning; wall and floor tiling, and welding.
Congratulating the winners and institutions, the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi said the country possesses a powerful youth with potential that need to be encouraged to change old ideas and practices towards good ends.
“The youth of today are tomorrow’s champions in an array of trades and fields,” said the minister.
She said stakeholders in development have a shared responsibility to ensure that young people have every opportunity to participate in the mainstream economic activities of the country.
“What we need now more than ever is an increased and coordinated effort to promote youth participation, with more services aimed to the youth and more parental and societal involvement in their upbringing and guidance.”
She said that as the bar is now raised more young people will knock on doors of institutions such as Cosdec, VTCs and public and private entities, as well as the Namibia Training Authority (NTA), and government’s expectation is to see enrolment expansion followed by deliverance of quality TVET (technical and vocational education and training) programmes that have a strong grounding in industry attachment.
“We also expect you to integrate as a matter of urgency entrepreneurial skills and the STEM courses in your course offerings, and pave the way for TVET graduates to own businesses.”
She said technical and vocational training is the most important tool to leverage in empowering the countless unemployed and underemployed to become active role players in building and maintaining a strong and vibrant economy.
NTA’s chief executive officer Jerry Beukes said that hosting such a successful event is a way of winning a milestone battle in the “war” to defeat public perceptions under which technical and vocational career paths are labelled as inferior options.
“I say ‘war’ because we will not be able to overcome the negative perceptions about TVET career options though a single event of this nature. This was a single ballet. The sad reality is that the Namibian TVET system continues to suffer from low levels of esteem and negative stereotyping, to a point where TVET remains an alternative associated with non-achievers and school failures,” said Beukes.
He said this is despite the noticeable importance the country assigns to the TVET sector as articulated under the short to longer-term macro-economic development strategies, including Vision 2030, the National Development Plans and Harambee Prosperity Plan.
He said fighting these negative societal perceptions will require a concerted effort by all stakeholders in TVET in underlining the essential role the sector plays in promoting economic prosperity and social cohesion.
Beukes called on stakeholders to continue to join forces in raising the public profile and attractiveness of such career options among learners and families, including through the media, and inform them on the possibilities for progress, employment and self-fulfilment that TVET can offer.