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Higher Education Institutions, TVET Not Ready For Renewable Energy Sector


By: Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus

The country’s higher learning institutions and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centres are not adequately ready to fill the skill requirements for the green hydrogen industry and renewable power sector.

This is according to a study titled, “Enhancing Employability: Skills Needs and Gap Analysis in Namibia’s Power-to-X Sector and Recommendations for a Skills Development Programme”, which was produced by the GIZ through its International PtX Hub, with various research from local institutions.

The revelation has also prompted the government and its partners to facilitate various scholarships for Namibians to equip themselves somewhere else on the skill set required by the new industries.

The study explores the skills requirements for the new green hydrogen industry and related industries such as renewable energy, identifies skills gaps and other education-related barriers in the country, and proposes to enhance the employability of locals.

The Namibian government’s Hydrogen Strategy aims to develop a supportive ecosystem for the green hydrogen and Power-to-X (PtX) sectors, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

Power-to-X (also known as P2X or PtX) describes the conversion of renewable electricity from wind, water, or solar as primary energy into an energy carrier (“X”).

These solutions provide an efficient alternative to curtailment of power generation during periods of surplus production.

In academic education, the qualification programmes offered by the University of Namibia (Unam) and Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), in areas relevant to the PtX industry, were examined.

Both Unam and Nust offer programmes in engineering and non-engineering disciplines, renewable energy, and science courses.

“In both universities, the specific modules on PtX were found to be limited,” the report stated.

Unam, however, is already developing a new faculty of Alternative and Renewable Energy in partnership with German universities.

At the same time, a green hydrogen and synthetic fuels stream is being introduced as part of the Master of Science in Renewable Energy programme.

Unam is also developing the Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering programme, focusing on technologies such as solar photovoltaics and wind, the report highlighted.

Nust, meanwhile, offers the Master of Sustainable Energy Systems programme, and plans to collaborate with students on how to develop a renewable power project.

It also offers the Master of Environmental Engineering which incorporates renewable energy and energy efficiency in its syllabus.

Nust also offers a research-based Master’s in Natural and Applied Sciences with a focus on green hydrogen production, storage, and application.

Additionally, collaborations between higher education institutions, industry, and research organisations such as the Namibia Energy Institute (NEI) and the Namibia Green Hydrogen Research Institute (NGHRI) have the potential to enhance PtX-related skills and knowledge.

However, the assessment has found that the higher education sector faces barriers to offering PtX-industry-relevant content.

These include a shortage of lecturers with PtX industry expertise, inadequate laboratory equipment, and challenges in finding work-integrated learning (WIL) placements for students.

Furthermore, the assessment has also found that there is minimal registration of engineering professionals with the Engineering Council of Namibia (ECN) and a lack of coordination between institutions.

The analysis of the TVET sector in Namibia covering green hydrogen and PtX-related skills shows that Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA)-accredited and Namibia Training Authority (NTA)-registered TVET offers relevant to the PtX industry exist.

These include vocational training in air conditioning and refrigeration, general electrical training, electronics, plumbing and pipe fitting, and solar equipment installation and maintenance.

However, although these training offers provide professionals with a certain skills foundation, “the programmes need further enhancement to provide the workforce with the specific knowledge and skills the green PtX industry needs”.

The researchers advised that the TVET curricula need to be updated and complemented to meet industry needs, the training of trainers must be enhanced, and investments in updated modern training equipment are needed.

Other important barriers are a lack of industry participation in apprenticeship programmes and difficulties in finding job placements for trainees, saying tackling these reskilling tasks and addressing these barriers will require a holistic and practice-relevant manner.

Moreover, it can only be achieved through close collaboration between training providers and private sector companies, as well as regulation and mandating of apprenticeship programmes.

The researchers stated that higher education and vocational training should contain practical training opportunities, hands-on experience with relevant equipment, and internships to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application.

As for the existing engineering curricula, it should serve as a solid foundation, but the report stated that “they need to be expanded to include courses focused on PtX topics”.

This applies to engineering disciplines such as energy, electrical, electronics, power systems, process, industrial, mechanical, chemical, and civil engineering.

In addition to engineering, non-engineering professionals in fields like finance, law, and environmental management also require PtX-specific knowledge.

As for the artisans, they should be provided with opportunities to reach higher competency levels, the assessment stated.

By reaching Levels 4 and 5 of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), artisans can carry out complex tasks independently and demonstrate mastery in their field.

Furthermore, vocational training programmes should also offer relevant elective courses during apprenticeships that focus on renewable energy and PtX topics.

Skills development is key to equipping Namibians with the necessary knowledge, expertise, and skills to participate in the PtX industry, ultimately enhancing employability.

In the PtX industry, job opportunities span across the entire value chain, encompassing renewable hydrogen production, hydrogen handling, storage, transport, and end-use applications.

They also include further processing of other chemicals and steel. The PtX industry in Namibia is expected to keep evolving, with the bigger project expected in the next ten years on renewable power, industrial plants, hydrogen transport, and storage infrastructure need to be built up. Email:

Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus

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