Namibia needs artisans to develop

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Sakaria Kadhikwa

Ongwediva-Namibian youth could through vocational and technical training be equipped with the requisite skills needed to make consumer goods locally and help the country reduce its import bill.

“Some Namibians go to faraway destinations beyond African borders to buy clothes and other good things. Why don’t we make those goods here instead importing them?”
This is the question Freddy Nghiwewelekwa, one of the instructors at Valombola, asked when he addressed the opening of Valombola Vocational Training Centre (VVTC) yesterday.

Nghiwewelekwa said the high unemployment rate among Namibian youth is linked to the existing trend of undervaluing vocational training.

This, he says, is further exacerbated by the tendency to export raw materials in raw form to other countries, where these are used to create jobs and wealth.

Like many others, he suggested Namibia should add value to its mineral and other resources and in this way create jobs and wealth.

He also noted that oftentimes big construction projects are being done by foreign firms that employ ordinary handymen like those who deliver bricks and mortar by pushing wheelbarrows.

“These workers earn little from their labour while a huge chunk of the income from that big project goes to foreign countries,” he said.

Nghiwewelekwa reiterated that through vocational training Namibia could educate and upskill its youth, thus reducing the import bill.

Speaking on the value and worth of vocational education, Nghiwewelekwa was passionate about equipping the trainees well to enable them to make goods that people in Namibia can buy, instead of having to importing these.

“With intensified vocational training Namibia will soon be able to have its own experts also working in other countries on big projects and in that way send foreign earnings home. Namibia will be one of those countries that will export experts to other lands, instead of it importing expertise, as is the case now,” he emphasised.

Nghiwewelekwa believes vocational skills training graduates often do not go into the market as jobseekers, but as job creators, who will employ others and in that way help broaden the tax base from which government earns revenue to further develop the country.

Nghiwewelekwa encouraged the vocational trainees, who packed the Sam Nujoma Multi-purpose Centre in Ongwediva during the official opening, to work hard and know that with vocational training they can realise everything they dreamed of.

“Do not relent in facing the challenge of finishing your training. What is expected from you is hard work and dedication. Remember, the trainers will guide you through their professional expertise, but it is your responsibility to assimilate and understand what they teach as much as possible,” Nghiwewelekwa encouraged the trainees.

Among the youth New Era spoke to on the day three young women who are pursuing plumbing and pipefitting studies, said the days of regarding vocational training as a dumping place for the underpriviledged are gone.

Also gone are the days when VTC training was a domain of men. ‘I’m here doing level one in plumbing and pipefitting, so that when I’m done I’ll be able to start my own company that will deliver services to the community and employ others,” enthused Justina Shilongo.

Hilja Amutenya and Dortea Iita concurred with Shilongo and encouraged other youth, especially women, to enrol for vocational skills training.

Valombola Vocational Training Centre is home to about 1,000 would-be artisans composed of an almost equal number of men and women, but it appears as if more women are enrolling for vocational training than men.

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