Govt urged to support vocational trainees and graduates

30 January 2019 | Education

A lecturer at the University of Namibia (Unam) has urged the ministry of higher education, innovation and training to create an enabling environment for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) trainees and graduates.

Julius Homateni Lukas says TVET graduates need to be supported in order to create employment for themselves and other Namibian youth, and subsequently grow the country's economy.

Lukas says the government has done an excellent job to create vocational training institutions and policies governing them, but it has failed to support TVET trainees and graduates, who end up looking for jobs instead of creating employment.

He says last year there were 22 accredited vocational training centres (VTCs) in the country striving to provide the skills, knowledge and technology needed to drive productivity and economic transformation, but the unemployment rate is still increasing.

“We are doing very well with the creation of VTCs and we are producing a number of graduates in various trades, but these graduates still end up in the street looking for employment,” Lukas says.

“We are failing to create job creators because some of them graduate without adequate skills and knowledge due to lack of proper job attachment service, while others do not have money to start their own businesses.”

He said for TVET trainees or artisans to be able to play their role effectively, it is important for the higher education ministry to ensure that there is an enabling and TVET-friendly environment in the whole country.

“Such an enabling environment can be achieved by putting in place harmonised national TVET policies, providing adequate opportunities to the trainees to study and trade, and developing positive public attitudes towards the capability of these trainees.”

The ministry of basic education has introduced a revised school curriculum that is aimed at reducing the number of school dropouts by allowing learners to take vocational subjects and to enrol in VTCs.

Under the revised curriculum, the junior secondary phase, which consist of grades 8 and 9, is comprised of nine promotional subjects. These include six core promotional subjects, three elective promotional subjects - including language and two technical and pre-vocational subjects - and five support subjects.

The six compulsory promotional subjects are English; mathematics; life science; physical science; geography and history. Elective subjects are first, second or foreign languages, agriculture, computer studies, design and technology, accounting, office practice, entrepreneurship, visual art, integrated performing arts, hospitality, home economics, fashion and fabrics.

Technical subjects include metalwork and welding, woodwork, building studies, electricity and electronics, motor mechanics and technical drawing.

According to Lukas this is a good initiative but can only be successfully achieved if the government is willing to support trainees and graduates.

He said since majority of trainees' studies are funded by the government through the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), the higher education ministry needs to work hand in hand with the works and transport ministry, which develops and manages government infrastructure, to make it compulsory for the trainees to work at government institutions as part of their training.

This means, for example, that trainee bricklayers would be sent to build government schools, hostels, teachers' accommodation, hospitals and clinics. The electrical trainees would wire these buildings, while refrigeration students would install and service air-conditioners at government office buildings countrywide. Welding and carpentry trainees would be sent to government institutions such as schools and hospitals to repair furniture, and trainee mechanics would service and repair government vehicles under the supervision of qualified artisans.

The trainees may be paid reasonable fees, but the main aim is to equip them with practical skills and hands-on experience.

“The enabling environment would ensure that all trainees would be equipped with the necessary skills upon completion of their studies. By the end of their training it should also be ensured that TVET graduates are capacitated, mentored or provided with financial support to start businesses,” Lukas advises.

He adds that if this apprenticeship system is successfully implemented, it would guarantee returns on the government investment in study loans or grants.

“The funding money must also include starting capital for those that would like to start their own businesses and employ others,” Lukas recommends.



ILENI NANDJATO

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