The International University of Management has called for cooperation between tertiary institutions in the country and industry if Namibia is to bridge the gap of skills shortages in the near future.
IUM Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Earle Taylor said there is need for industry to work closely with tertiary institutions to come up with a curricular that supports industrial needs.
He added that there is need for industry and government to avail more industrial related learning and internship programmes to Namibian graduates if the country is to give the relevant work experience to the graduates.
“We have done research in the past and it has shown us that at least 90% of our graduates are absorbed into the industry while 10% of them also end up venturing into entrepreneurship because we have put serious emphasis on the need to train graduates according to industrial needs.
"It is unfortunate that there is no close working relationship among the tertiary institutions in the county. We have specifically focussed on the market response in the way we train our graduates. We also feel a need for government to stretch a helping hand to us just like they do with all the other tertiary institutions," he said.
Taylor added that according to the last tracer study done by the university in 2012 the university’s graduates are well received by the industry although there are a few that are still looking for employment.
Professor Taylor believes that there is stern need for Government to make sure that the pricing model of education is not beyond the reach of the average Namibia. According to Taylor IUM has experienced sustainable growth in the past five years and the institution is targeting to grow further across the country with the establishment of another comps in Nkurenkuru.
"As an independent institution we have always kept our pricing model in line with business principles and also made sure it’s affordable to all students. Unlike the other state owned institutions it is not easy for us to go and ask for assistance from Government but we are non profit making institution and the bulk of our money is cultivated into growing and expanding the institution," he said.
Professor Taylor argues that while Polytechnic and University of Namibia have the liberty to ask for financial assistance IUM has always had to make do with their own resources.
"If government who is the leading employer is not leading the way then it is difficult for industry to do that as well. We have thus far designed an engagement with government to create opportunities for graduates because the employment market is not open enough to create opportunities for graduates. The other area we have succeeded in is to inculcate a culture of business. We need to instil that belief in our students that there is a culture that leads to failure and there is a culture associated with failure. For this reason we cultivate strict discipline measures because we are competing with huge guys out there. This means our graduates should have a special niche to compete on the market," he said.
Professor Taylor also added that as an institution IUM does not compete with anyone in the country in terms of producing graduates but their emphasis is to complement the need for skills in the country. He added that the challenge Namibia faces today is that industry is not playing a proactive role in supporting universities.
"Industry always asks for experience before employing someone but this is a typical issue of the egg and the chicken. In other countries Government plays a significant role in providing internship for students but here we are still far from that. Government is still coming up with modalities towards that and it will take some time but we are eager to work with both the government and also the industry in providing our students opportunities," he said.
Professor Taylor added that the institution has deepened the research aspect of their courses through MoUs with industry across the sector in a bid to have the employers respond to the needs of the graduates.
"According to our comparative cost our pricing model has made it very affordable for students. We have also seen that in the past there to four years our tuition has been kept at rather affordable rates," he said.
Taylor added that the university has also managed to create education in line with the needs of the market and also differentiate their courses from the other institution. “Education is a key to development and it needs to be linked to the capacity to deliver. We need to produce graduates that can deliver their knowledge. In the future we call for a close relationship between industry and all the tertiary institutions. In other countries industry has always led the way in inviting institutions but here in Namibia we are not getting enough engagement with the industry and sometimes this kills growth," he said.