Vocational education is the answer to the country’s high unemployment challenge, particularly youth unemployment, Standard Bank Head of Marketing, Communications and CSI, Magreth Mengo, said recently at the launch of the 2019 National Skills Competition in Windhoek.
Mengo said research has shown that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is important for promoting economic development, expanding employment size, improving the quality of employment, innovation and entrepreneurship.
“This is especially important for a country like Namibia which continues to export its natural resources in raw form, and with a very high level of youth unemployment,” Mengo said.
Namibia’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 37,3 percent in 2017, up from 34 percent in 2016 and 28 percent recorded in 2014 by the Namibia Labour Force Survey (NLFS).
“A significant share of the youth population is still unemployed, standing at an estimated 43,4 percent, according to a report, titled 'Status of the Namibian Economy' compiled by the National Planning Commission (NPC).”
Mengo further said that vocational education and training is a very important sub-component of the education system, but one that was neglected in the early years of independence and is generally shunned upon by both parents and students alike.
“But it is important to highlight that no nation has ever developed without the backbone of a strong vocational educational system. The most industrialised countries such as Germany, Japan, China, UK, US and South Korea are well known for their well-run vocational education and training systems.
“It is with this in mind that Standard Bank, which places a premium on education, has decided to come on board with a sponsorship package that we hope will go a long way in encouraging the youth to take up vocational studies so that they can in the end employ themselves and others.
“This sponsorship is also in response to a passionate plea by the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) Chief Executive Officer, Jerry Beukes, who at the inaugural launch of the National Skills Competition in 2016, highlighted that the future staging of the event remained dependent on whether the NTA would be able to access the necessary financial resources.”
Also speaking at the launch, Beukes thanked sponsors and partners like Standard Bank for their “generous and patriotic contributions that would make the [National Skills Competition] a reality for all Namibians”.
He said the National Skills Competition will not only allow technical institutions and individuals to test their skills proficiency against that of their peers, but will also serve as a platform from which to select Namibia’s competitors at the next World Skills International (WSI) Competition, slated for August this year in the Russian city of Kazan.
Meanwhile, the 2019 National Skills Competition will feature 12 occupational skills areas, namely automotive technology, bricklaying, carpentry, cooking, electrical installations, joinery, hair dressing, refrigeration and air condition, plumbing, restaurant services, wall and floor tiling.
The increase in competition areas, from the previous 10, has also resulted in an increase in competitors and experts from 117 competitors in 2016 to 152 this year and from 70 experts, to 100 experts this year.
In addition, 14 industry sourced workshop coordinators, who will serve as technical advisors, will be deployed.
“This is a completely new development and was not part of the skills competition before,” Beukes said, adding that too many Namibian leaners, parents and guardians seem not to give any concentration to technical and vocational technical opportunities.
“This situation is exacerbated by societal perceptions that stigmatise such career options as dirty, low paying, low status and does not offer any opportunity for personal growth and advancement.
“We wish through this competition to support young Namibians. The strategic policy rationale behind the continuous staging of the National World Skills Competition is clear. Young Namibians need to make decisions about their future careers in a well informed and thought through manner.
“The TVET mission is aimed at inspiring dynamic exchange between attendees and exhibitors and forms part of the ongoing Live Your Passion campaign which is a media campaign under which the NTA in partnership with the European Union and industry stakeholders advocate for technically-inclined young Namibians to consider and take up TVET careers,” Beukes said.
Standard Bank donated N$200,000 towards the hosting of the 2019 National Skills Competition which will take place from the 3rd to the 6th of April 2019 at the Ramatex complex in Windhoek.