Training key to regional integration

Since countries have shrugged off the shackles of colonialism, apartheid and other social evils, upliftment of the hitherto underprivileged classes became the credo of the new governments. Many resources were poured into the economy to ensure that the labour force developed to reflect the spectrum of people living in the particular country.

There was only one major obstacle. The socially, economically and politically disadvantaged people faced another serious barrier on their way to becoming more successful in employment or self-employment and achieving more than merely eking out a bare living and existence: Training and Education.

It comes as no surprise that in many countries the government has prioritised education and training ,especially as an important means to addressing youth unemployment and developing a highly competent and skilled work force. Despite this emphasis, people still hear the repetitive “you do not have the proper experience or you do not have the proper qualification or certification for this job”.

One may well ask how long the lament will continue to echo around the hallowed halls of our industries. It is often a very convenient excuse not to indigenise the senior work force and, in fact, it is one of the major complaints by the Namibian Labour Equity Commission.

The important foundation for future economic development has, therefore, not yet been laid properly, nor has it cured sufficiently.

Four years ago SADC took a very brave and positive decision when it held the first “Technical and Vocational Education and Training Conference”. This body’s task was to evaluate and synchronise efforts in the region. The body is now on the eve of translating the policy framework in SADC to a regional framework with the focus on the private sector ‘ often called the “engine of economic growth” in our region.

In Namibia the Namibia Training Authority has been tasked with ensuring the relevance, efficiency and quality of the training offered. By now unit standards for various categories have been determined, the curriculum modules have been drafted and the first series of courses have been written and printed.

A small step in the industrialised world, but a giant step ahead for Namibia and the region, because these modules have already been integrated to a large degree with others in the region.

It is with gratitude and enthusiasm that our region can soon look forward to the day when our trainees can compete with the best in the world and the certifications they have obtained in various trades and occupations will not be made off as being less desirable or less significant than any other qualification.

It will, also, be the first time that a qualification obtained in one member state of SADC will be recognised without question in any of the other member states.

Quality training and quality education: the mantra of the region; the mantra for success, development and prosperity.

October 2006
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