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Polytechnic Closure Widened Vocational-University Education Gap – Report

By:Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus
Namibia’s public education sector has a big gap between vocational education training providers and universities.
A GIZ-funded report titled,“Enhancing Employability: Skills Needs and Gap Analysis in Namibia’s PtX Sector and Recommendations for a Skills Development Programme”, said this is because of the lack of coverage of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Level 4 and Level 5.

In the Power-to-X (PtX) industry, job opportunities span across the entire value chain but also professionals in overarching workfields (e.g. in governments or agencies for health and safety) need to know about PtX concepts. Skills development is key to equip Namibians with the necessary knowledge, expertise, and skills to participate in the PtX industry, ultimately enhancing employability.
The report findings are that Namibia presentlyexperiences a gap in its educational system, specifically in the area of polytechnic education.
“This gap emerged when the former Polytechnic of Namibia was transformed into Nust [Namibia University of Science and Technology], resulting in a void between vocational education training providers’ programmes and the entry requirements for universities,” the report stated.
It explained that most TVET centres stop at level 3, making it difficult for graduates from public VTCs, for instance, to qualify foruniversity.
Thus, the lack of coverage of levels 4 and 5 is a key deficiency of the VET system in its present state, the report pointed out.
According to the report, only the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT) is currently bridging this gap by sending graduates to South Africa to complete their training.
This is because NIMT still uses the South African model, which was used before Namibia’s independence in 1990.
In addition, NIMT admits grade 12 graduates based on their mathematics, science, and English marks, with no specific thresholds, but high demand for the institute implies that only students with high marks are admitted.
The Namibia Training Authority (NTA) has developed some unit standards targeting to bridge the gap for the ‘Solar Equipment and Maintenance’ course up to Level 5.
However, the report stated that due to the limited qualified trainers, the course is only offered up to level 3, highlighting the importance of having academic staff and TVET trainers to be offered the opportunity to upskill.
The report explained that technicians and artisans play a vital role in the implementation of Power-to-X and renewable energy projects as they will occupy various positions throughout the process as electricians, electrical technicians, pipe fitters and plumbers, metal workers, boiler makers and welders.
To meet the requirements of complex renewable energy and PtX installations, it is crucial for individuals reach higher levels, specifically Levels 4 or 5, the report recommended.
“At Level 4, artisans possess advanced skills and knowledge, allowing them to carry out complex tasks independently.”
Level 5 represents a level, where individuals demonstrate good mastery of their field, including the ability to lead and supervise others.
To prepare technicians and artisans for the envisaged higher-level roles in emerging renewable energy technology and other industries, the vocational training system needs to create suitable conditions.
This can be accomplished by offering relevant elective courses during apprenticeships that focus on renewable energy and PtX topics.
According to the report the proposed Faculty of TVET at NUST is recommended to bridge the gap between TVET Level 3 or 4 and Level 6.
The report added that the faculty will be instrumental in capacitating the TVET trainers who can teach at training providers.
Furthermore, the proposed faculty will enhance the technical know-how of the trainer to be able to effectively teach at training providers.
Is also recommended that Nist design undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, which focus on technical, pedagogical, and research skills to train qualified trainers who will be able to train up to NQF level 6 in the VTCs.
The country is also recommended to act in the medium term by upgrading the existing Solar Equipment Installation and Maintenance course from level 3 to level 5 by upskilling the current instructors, training equipment, and delivery.
As for the existing pipe fitter/plumber qualification it needs to be upgraded to (Levels 3 & 4) to encompass industrial pipe fitting knowledge and skills.
Given the country’s implementation challenges, it has been recommended to have a monitoring and evaluation framework to track the progress and effectiveness of the skills development initiatives. Email:

Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus

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