Mr Jerry Beukes, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Training Authority (NTA), recently announced that the Training Levy account is N$1.4 billion strong. The Training Levy payments came into force on April 1, 2014. The Training Levy is paid by registered employers in Namibia whose annual payroll is N$ 1 million or more. Currently some 2,816 employers are registered with the NTA for the purpose of paying the Training Levy. The training Levy provides grants to employers who can demonstrate that they trained their workers. The fund supports training providers by funding trainees. The fund further enables NTA to certify workers who acquired competences throughout their working life through the Recognition of Prior Learning Programme. The fund is also promoting Entrepreneurship Development among trainees of Vocational Education Centres. Recently NTA in collaboration with Employers’ Organisation launched the Apprenticeship Pilot Project. All these are commendable efforts.
According to Mr Jerry Beukes the NTA is planning to build a Vocational Training Centre in every Region of our country. If this happens opportunities for young people to acquire a skill will greatly be expanded. However, NTA should heed the council of Mr Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Mr Guy Ryder visited Namibia during the week of August 5th, this year. He delivered a public lecture at the National Institute for Public Administration (NIPAM) on the themes of the Future of Work and Decent Work Agenda. He cautioned that technology is threatening traditional jobs and labour markets should adjust to this reality. Vocational Education and Training should therefore respond to the changing employment conditions.
Currently our Vocational Training Centres are stuck in training young people in old skills such boiler-making, plumbing, pipe-fitting, carpentry and cabinet making, auto-mechanics, brick-laying and plastering and similar old trades. The National Training Authority should evaluate its training programmes so as to respond to future demands of skills. Any training should be demand driven. A study which was done through the auspices of the Millennium Challenge Account Programme, a couple of years ago, pointed out that many vocational education graduates were finding it difficult to find jobs. It was probably for that reason that the NTA is now putting emphasis on entrepreneurial training in vocational training centres, especially for those trainees at Level 3. The Vocational Education and Training Policy of Namibia had also hinted at the need to foster skills development in emerging areas of employment such computing, tourism and design and realisation.
Mr Ryder of ILO emphasized the fact that the nature of work is changing and training providers should respond to such changes. Non-standard form of employment is emerging in the form of the gig economy and crowd-work. The gig jobs are using ICT platforms to create digital labour. Digital work is outsourced to geographically dispersed locations through crowd platform and applications.
The digital labour platforms connect workers with consumers and provide the infrastructure and governance conditions of work and its compensation. Such on demand work is flexible and creates a shared economy.
To be able to participate in the gig economy young people should master skill of on-line platforms, crowd work, micro-task platforms, ICT programming, web development and similar competences.
Another emerging area of new work is data mining. Data mining is a process used to extract usable data from a larger set of any raw data. The process requires effective data collection, ware-housing and processing. Data is analysed by use of sophisticated algorithms. The goal is to discover patterns and make predictions of likely outcomes. This enables data miners to create decision-oriented information. This is called knowledge discovery. Our vocational education and training system should aggressively respond to these new job avenues.
The VET system should at least introduce young trainees in essential ICT skills. The International Computer Driving Licence News (ICDL) identified seven essential ICT skills. These are coding, analytics, social media, security and safety, online collaboration, managing online information and basic image editing. Coding is the understanding of how the code works. Analytics is the ability to develop, format, modify and represent data through the use of spreadsheet formulas and functions. Social media competencies are the ability to recognise the different social media platform and discover their advantages, limitation and mechanics. Cyber security and safety are essential to privacy. Online collaboration involves data storing, data application and web-meetings. Managing online information is the ability of searching, identifying, evaluating and communicating data.
This competence enables ITC collaborators to be discerning users. Basic image editing is the ability to use editing programmes.
The envisaged new Vocational Education and Training Centres should concentrate and emphasize the provision of broad-based digital competences to young people so as to enhance digital competence development in the country.
Trainees should be inculcated with open minded attitude, a willingness to learn and acceptance of change in the workplace. They should be enabled to fully participate in the gig economy. This is the future of work.