The Roads Contractor Company is paying close attention to the heavy equipment operators’ backlogs, with particular attention being paid to their availability- a situation which has forced the country to import skills in that field. The operators’ backlog totals 342 at the moment and with the construction industry booming in the country, the need for qualified operators becomes more paramount. Statistics provided by RCC Ceo Tino !Hanabeb this week indicate that over 80% of RCC operators are older than 45 while more than 90% of final level cutters are foreign nationals. The precarious situation has forced four entities- RCC, NamWater, GIZ Namibia and Namibia Training Authority- to join forces in order to remedy it. The quartet this week entered into an agreement which will enable them to provide training to heavy equipment operators in a bid to boost local human resource capacity.
The total capital requirement to start the training programme is N$21.5 million. “This required concerted effort from all the stakeholders to address the skills shortage in Namibia. This training programme must be marketed to[the] Grade 12 aggressively. We want young Namibians to participate in the construction industry not only as engineers but as operators of heavy equipment,” he stressed. RCC will donate six heavy plant equipment that will be used for practical training purposes. NamWater’s Human Resources Development Centre was recently accredited by the Namibia Qualifications Authority to provide the National Vocational Certificate in Road Construction and Management(Heavy Plant Operator Training) levels 1-3 which will be introduced in March next year. NamWater CEO Vaino Shivute said the course was offered more than 10 years ago, although it was not a full qualification but more based on the customer needs. “The NamWater HRDC will be responsible for the delivery of the Heavy Plant Operator training and provision of all support, technical and training services to successfully deliver this training course,” said Shivute. NamWater committed N$4.8 million to the training training programme of which N$3 million will be used to construct hostel accommodation for the envisaged students and the remaining funds will go towards the construction of a practical training area. The water body will also cover all costs related to roadworthy testing and change of ownership of donated heavy plants, insurance costs of trainees and equipment, admin offices, lecture rooms and the remuneration of two new employees.
With the value of the HRDC facility estimated at N$17 million, Shivute said it will be considered as a contribution in kind by NamWater as per the terms of the agreement. “Our expectation is to bring about industrial development in Namiba through investing in vocational training. It is our firm believe that the value addition with the introduction of this course will drive different industries to positively contribute towards the developmental agenda of Namibia,” he said. Meanwhile, NTA reiterated its commitment to strengthening and expanding the vocational education training system to serve the current and emerging needs of the country. NTA’s acting operations chief Richwell Lukonga announced that the entity will allocate N$14.8 million through its training fund over the next two years for heavy plant, capital works and equipment. It will also provide funding for the annual operational costs to train at least 20 Heavy Plant Operator students to NQA Level 3, as guided by the unit costs, which currently stands at N$60 000. “Given the considerable shortage in qualified Heavy Plant Operators and the investment required to introduce this training course in Namibia, this will be a firm commitment for the next three years,” Lukonga said.