Dissecting vocational education

The era of vocational education training (VET) is not gone yet as new empirical pieces of evidence highlight the role of VET in producing wider benefits such as economic growth, the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups and a more cohesive and responsible society, as well as securing employment and income stability.

Countries that have recorded significant and meaningful economic growth over the past decade – Finland, Germany, Austria, Australia, and South Korea - have tapped into the power of VET and it is these countries that are emerging as the new economic powerhouses of the world.

The important message is that investment in VET could be as effective for individuals as investment in general education. Running an efficient and effective VET system comes at a cost and in the world over, training provision is increasingly becoming the responsibility of the private sector thus lessening the burden on Government.

It is envisaged that contributions to be generated by the collection of the training levy would add considerably to the capacity and sustainability of the National Training Authority (NTA).

If anything, Namibia is pressing in the right direction and the youngest CEO of the NTA, Maria Nangolo-Rukoro walks us through what lies ahead in the VET world . . .

PF: What is your mandate and are you getting there?

MNR: To answer your question, we must first consider a few other aspects locked up in our mandate.

First of all, what is vocational education and training? It refers to the training interventions that aim at equipping people with the knowledge, skills and/or competencies required in particular occupations, or more broadly in the labour market.

And it is vocational education and training that the NTA has been entrusted to regulate by ensuring that training programmes and services meet emerging and future industry and business needs.

Secondly, why do we need to regulate the VET sector? This move towards a nationally consistent environment of VET regulation has long been a policy goal of the Namibian government and it came to fruition through the promulgation of the Vocational Education and Training Act, Act 1 of 2008.

The NTA therefore needs to regulate the VET sector by ensuring national standards are met and to assure the quality of qualifications and skills issued by registered training organisations.

Thirdly, what is the purpose of VET? Internationally, the purpose is to build a transition from school to learning-to-work to full-time work over a period of three to four years. The goal is for trainees to get training for an initial career and enter the workforce smoothly with the option to continue their studies in post-secondary institutions if they wish to.

Are we getting there? I would say yes. We have certainly made considerable strides. I am two years into my five-year contract. I took a conscious decision to focus on three issues against which to judge my performance.

To strengthen the organisational effectiveness of the NTA and the VTCs in delivering on our mandate; to implement the Training Levy to secure a proper and sustainable funding base for VET and thirdly, to formalise recognition of prior learning, which acknowledges and certifies skills.

PF: The NTA is a regulator but at the same time, it is also involved in the delivery of training at the State-owned Vocational Training Centres (VTCs). Can the NTA be a player and referee at the same time?

MNR: Yes, indeed. We are a referee and a player. It is not an ideal situation, I admit but it is certainly an area for reform. But the NTA acts in the context in which it finds itself.

Upon its establishment, the NTA has inherited the former State-owned vocational training centres, which used to be run by the Ministry of Education.

The VET Act tasks us to lead these centres to semi-autonomy through a process of transformation. The reality is that in terms of the CBET system, they are very much caterpillars and we need to assist in their metamorphosis to become “butterflies of VET”. In getting us there, we need to establish consensus in defining what constitutes the “semi-autonomy”.

We need to engage our stakeholders, including the industry players, in establishing whether we would want the VTCs to continue to be generalists, or perhaps have them focus more on addressing niche skills needs. In the interim, we continue to provide the necessary leadership and management support to them.

Regulation pre-supposes the presence of a strong and vibrant training market. As such, in as much as the Vocational Education and Training Act mandates the NTA to regulate the provision of quality training programmes aligned with current and future industry needs, we can only do so if there is a market.

The training market in Namibia is still very much in its infancy and building a training market cannot be done overnight. Although we have established and reputable training providers who have been involved in the training of mainly artisans, before and after independence, we simply do not have enough training providers to take care of the evolving training needs of industry.

Globalisation has blurred the boundaries; gone are the days when VET was limited to a few technical artisan trades such as plumbing, welding, woodwork and construction.

Modern VET includes trades and occupations in areas such as information and communication technology, the media, the banking and insurance industry and even the medical field.

The VET sector has evolved and continues to evolve. Every day, we see new trades and occupations being added to the list.

Current global issues such as climate change, an ageing population and the economic recovery continue to influence decisions and actions, which in turn rely on a flexible and responsive training system to provide opportunities for retrenched workers, apprentices and youth; increase access and engagement for equity groups; and equip the workforce with the necessary technical skills for the future, including higher level, green and digital skills.

The NTA, therefore, needs to involve itself in the interim with providing assistance to all training providers, whether public or private, to ensure that their offerings are aligned with the evolving needs of the local and the global economy.

So, yes, regulation should be our main focus, but we also have a responsibility towards existing and new training providers in assisting them to establish an enabling environment for quality, accessible and equitable training.

We continuously anticipate playing this role in the foreseeable future to assist our training providers to compete in an environment where quality and accredited qualifications are offered to young people wanting to enter the VET sector.

PF: In your opinion, how would you describe the overall state of VET in Namibia, today? Are we on track in establishing a VET system that would address our socio-economic concerns?

MNR: VET has over the past decade enjoyed an international revival for two major reasons.

Firstly, it is increasingly regarded as a suitable means of promoting economic growth. Secondly, it is seen as a potentially powerful tool for fostering social inclusion.

When our lawmakers crafted the Vocational Education and Training Act, they anticipated the establishment of a Namibian VET framework that would bring together trainees, employers, industry players, Government and registered training organisations in the delivery of VET.

They also anticipated a system that would address the nation’s skills needs and, in so doing, driving improved productivity and economic growth. Through strong industry leadership, they envisage a VET system that would provide Namibians with the skills needed to enter the workforce for the first time, to re-enter the workforce, to retrain for a new job, to upgrade skills for an existing job and to learn throughout their lives.

However, our Government’s productivity agenda has not only been concerned with ensuring that the skills of the Namibian workforce better match the skill needs in the industry but also to raise the skills of our workforce to ensure that Namibia is competitive in a global market. VET is seen as critical to our future competitiveness.

But the Vision 2030 document anticipates the establishment of a knowledge-based economy as the cornerstone for our national economic development. Whereas knowledge is now a product, the skill is a tool.

This leads us to the question of whether or not it is appropriate. Should we not rather strive towards a greater emphasis on skills as the cornerstone?

That is what the Koreans have done. They are not blessed with natural resources but they’ve used their skills-base as a tool in building a very strong economy.

Today, they are deemed as an exporter of skills. Now, consider what Namibia, with its abundant natural resources could achieve if we put more emphasis on skills training?

Coming back to your question: Are we on track? Yes, I believe so. We have certainly made significant strides and we are lucky to have a Board of Directors that shares in this vision and supports us.

They are currently in the process of putting forward a new five-year strategy with a strong ‘Skills for Sustainable Growth’ component of measures aimed at supporting more apprenticeships; providing training to address emerging skills shortages; and lifting the quality and capacity of VET.

PF: Where do we draw the line between the NTA and the National Qualifications Authority (NQA)?

MNR: Perhaps it is because the acronyms sound alike, hence people seem to confuse the two. However, the lines are clear; the NQA is involved in the promotion of quality education and training in Namibia through the development and management of a comprehensive and flexible National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

In addition, the NQA promotes quality through the accreditation of education and training providers in Namibia and their courses.

Furthermore, the NQA’s legislative obligations involve setting up the occupational standards for any occupation or job in any career structure and setting the curriculum standards for achieving such occupational standards. It also promotes the development of benchmarks of acceptable performance norms for any occupation and accredits persons, institutions and organisations, providing education and courses of instruction or training.

On the other hand, the NQF is intended to be a register of all relevant and legal qualifications in Namibia, whether such qualifications are obtained at university or technikons, or are qualifications earned in the VET sector.

As such, all degrees, diplomas and certificates are registered on the framework. As far as VET qualifications are concerned, the framework also provides for articulation of such qualifications.

In turn, the NTA regulates the provision of VET, by ensuring that training programmes meet current and future needs and people are imparted with skills to find employment and participate in our economic development towards Vision 2030. The NTA’s area of focus is the VET sector and to regulate service provision within this sector.

We are sister organisations but while the NTA’s focus is on the VET sector, the NQA is involved in the quality assurance of all qualifications; whether it is a degree earned from Unam, a diploma from Polytechnic, or a certificate from a VTC.

We work together in assuring the quality of the VET sector. Co-operation has been good. We have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the NQA, which governs our co-operation. The CEO of the NQA, Franz Gertze also serves on the NTA’s Board of Directors.

PF: If you look at the mandate of the NTA and the public expectation to skill young people to participate meaningfully in economic development towards Vision 2030, would you agree with sentiments that the NTA has ‘bitten off more than it can chew’?

MNR: The delivery of our mandate to upgrade skills in Namibians is indeed a huge challenge. To illustrate, if one compares the roads sector with the skills sector, the enormity of the tasks at hand becomes clear.

Government has established the Roads Authority (RA) to regulate the roads sector; the Road Fund Administration (RFA) to fund the sector; and the Roads Contractor Company to execute road construction.

Three interlinked departments, yet separate entities. On the other hand, the NTA as a single entity is expected to regulate skills training, fund skills training and execute skills training.

Take into consideration the financial and human resource challenges I alluded to earlier; you will understand the enormity of the task at hand.

However, our aspiration is having an equitable and inclusive VET system that enables all trainees to fulfill their potential through skills development and to access the opportunities society has to offer.

We do try to prioritise groups that have reduced access to society’s economic, cultural and social resources and as a result, are disadvantaged in VET and employment opportunities.

This include people from low socio-economic backgrounds; people with disability; the unemployed; girl-children and women and people from rural, regional or remote locations or communities with high levels of disadvantages.

Empirical pieces of evidence from VET success stories such as Australia show that increasing the participation of disadvantaged trainees in VET can deliver substantial benefits to the economy, community and individual and we believe that Namibia is no different.

Despite our strong focus on social inclusion, there remain sectors in society, including certain industry sectors that share in this sentiment that the NTA is not delivering on its mandate.

However, we have recorded significant progress over the past three years towards establishing a vibrant and sustainable skills system. Some milestones include the establishment of a Training Levy Framework and the establishment of a Recognition of Prior Learning Pilot project.

We anticipate that the Training Levy, once operational, will significantly contribute towards our efforts to implement priority-driven training interventions, as VET is a very expensive exercise. In turn, the Recognition of Prior Learning project could boost the certification of many uncertified but skilled, competent and experienced Namibian artisans and craftsmen.

Recognition of Prior Learning is a key feature of the Competency-Based Vocational Education and Training (CBET) system. It is assessed on previous experience and learning prior to study that has not been formally assessed. It can lead to a full qualification in the VET sector.

We are aware of the expectations and we will continue to redesign and mould our VET system so that it is accessible to everyone and provide better outcome for many employees and for our national economy.

PF: How do you describe your relationship with higher learning institutions like Polytechnic and Unam? What are the immediate hurdles?

MNR: We are not competitors; we are all partners in the Namibian higher education sector. Our focus has been and will continue to be on co-operation towards a quality Namibian education system. We are about to finalise an agreement with the Polytechnic of Namibia to assist in the training of VET trainers, whereas we have involved the University of Namibia in the design of curricula and unit standards.

There are no hurdles as yet but, if indeed we are seen to be competitors, it is perhaps because we compete in attracting the best candidates from school, or because we compete for a bigger share of the education vote.

Although from this resource perspective, there is wide consensus and a range of empirical pieces of evidence to highlight the importance of investment in general education for economic growth and social inclusion, little is known (as of now) of the ability of VET to achieve comparable results.

Despite this lack of knowledge and research, the tendency is to consider investment in general and academic education superior to the investment in VET.

However, there are new empirical pieces of evidence to highlight the role of VET in producing wider benefits; economic growth, the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups and a more cohesive and responsible society, as well as securing employment and income stability.

We see this piece of evidence being generated in countries that have recorded significant and meaningful economic growth over the past decade – Finland, Germany, Austria, Australia, and South Korea.

The important message is that investing in VET could be as effective for individuals as investing in general education.

Such research results suggest that in developed countries, the returns on investing in VET beyond secondary level could be of the same order of magnitude as in general tertiary education. This reinforces the notion that VET is a crucial pillar in any education system.

The issue is, therefore, not whether or not full-time institutional training, apprenticeship training or on-the-job training offers a better option in VET.

Each system has its place and value. What is important is the relevance and quality of its programmes in meeting the needs of the students, industry and society.

PF: VET graduates are often seen as inferior to graduates from Polytechnic or Unam. Why is that so and how do you go about making sure your graduates have their ‘place in the sun’?

MNR: You are right in your assessment; it is indeed a perception, not a fact.

VET graduates are often perceived as ‘inferior’ to tertiary graduates because of two main reasons. First of all, there is a common perception that VET studies are for the students who do not excel at school. These are the children so easily referred to as ‘stupid’ and ‘slow’. However, experience has shown that not all students can do equally well in academic studies.

Children have different talents, personalities, interests and aptitude. They grow and learn at different paces, those who are more technically-inclined would respond better to a more practical and skills-based curriculum through VET.

Secondly, many parents and guardians continue to exert undue pressure on their children to train for ‘white-collar’ careers that supposedly pay well.

By doing so, they add further fuel to the perception that technical ‘blue-collar’ trades are not worth investing in, without taking into consideration the talents and career wishes of their children.

If our education system is to maximise the potential of all students, then this perception and old mindset must change. All pathways of education and training are (and should be) seen as important avenues in building a strong and robust educational system.

All stakeholders including policymakers, the media, employers, educators and parents have a part to play in giving due recognition to the importance and value of VET and promoting its image and public recognition.

It is critical that VET be viewed and accepted as an integral part of the mainstream national education and training system, not as a system established to cater for drop-outs and those who did not perform well academically.

The phenomenon of “degree mania” or “paper-chase”, which can be described as ‘an intense desire to pursue a university degree’, is still pervasive in our country.

The reasons are understandable. Traditionally in many cultures, scholars have been held in high esteem. It has been the path to success cherished by many.

Therefore, doing well academically in schools was (and still is) held in high esteem. Parents today continue to cherish the hope and aspiration that their children will make it to the university.

The consequence is prejudice against and less than positive image of VET and all its negative associations with those who do not do well academically in schools.

We should learn from South-Korea. They have managed to establish VET as a career path of choice. Today, the Korean VET system attracts the cream of the crop of students graduating from high school.

The same could be said about other VET success stories such as those of Finland and Germany. These systems put a high premium on innovation and encourage young children to become innovators. Is it a coincidence that these countries are emerging as the new economic powerhouses of the world?

PF: Could you shed more light on the Standards, Assessment and Certification Council (SACC)?

MNR: The role of the Standards, Assessment and Certification Council is essentially meant to oversee, on behalf of the Board, the NTA’s work in developing the range and quality of VET provision to a high and consistent standard.

Members of the SACC are senior individuals with experience of the issues covered by it. They consider issues at strategic levels. They are not technical VET experts but rather senior figures from within organisations and industries relevant to their sphere of activities.

Various stakeholders nominate them. But, it should be noted that all SACC members are appointed as individuals and not as representatives of the bodies that nominate them.

Some of the key issues they deal with include the approval of the issuing of certificates attesting to achievement in national vocational courses; policies, processes and procedures for the registration and accreditation of training providers and policies and procedures for the development of unit standards and qualifications.

The SACC also focuses on the professional development of trainers.

It is also expected that they develop criteria and processes for the registration and accreditation of assessors and moderators and to plan the improvement of the quality and effectiveness of assessment arrangements.

PF: How do you involve the industry in the setting of training priorities? What mechanisms have you put in place to ensure the effective participation of the various industry sectors?

MNR: One of the major innovations set out in the VET Act is the mandate for the NTA to establish industry skills committees (ISCs) as standing committees of its Board. Comprised of senior people from the industry, the aim of the ISCs is to help us develop a VET system, which is driven by the industry needs.

They advise the Board on all matters relating to the needs of the industry sectors for which they are responsible. They are also tasked with providing the NTA with industry intelligence on current and future skills requirements as well as overseeing the work of the NTA in developing competence-based training aligned to such needs.

Furthermore, the ISCs also oversees that training providers provide training programmes of the highest quality standards consistent with industry requirements. In line with this task, the ISCs advise the SACC regarding the registration and deregistration of accredited assessors for the sectors that they are responsible for.

Five ISCs were established two years ago and have been operating as full-functional bodies. These are: fisheries and maritime; finance and business services; hospitality and tourism; agriculture and forestry and mining, quarrying, construction; electricity, gas, water supply and sanitation.

To move towards realising the full participation of industry stakeholders in the development of training packages, the Board has recently approved the establishment and appointment of membership to five new ISCs.

These are: post and telecommunications; manufacturing, automotive sales, arts and crafts; wholesale & retail trade; health care and social services; and transport, warehousing and logistics.

This is seen as particularly important, now that developments are underway for the establishment of the Training Levy. All ISC members are appointed for a period of three years and may be reappointed for a second three-year term.

PF: The Prime Minister says Education and Training Sector Improvement Program (ETSIP) failed to develop a true NTA. He says you are still “lagging behind” in terms of connecting VETs. How do you plead?

MNR: ETSIP is a programme aimed at improving the education and training sector. And as far as VET is concerned, ETSIP advocates for the establishment of a VET system that is accessible, equitable and of quality. ETSIP further calls for a VET system attuned to the industry needs.

In terms of these requirements, I would love to think that we have lived up to expectations. In fact, I would go further to say that in some instances, we have exceeded ETSIP’s expectations.

For example, ETSIP called for the development of a framework for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). We have finalised the RPL framework; a pilot programme starts soon, followed by a full national roll-out.

But it is a process and cannot happen overnight, we plan to expand VET to make it accessible in all regions of our country.

To be consistent with the national priorities and policies, this expansion plan needs to be directed towards helping to increase the capacity, scale and profitability of industry and facilitate more VET opportunities for more trainees to qualify for more jobs in industries with greatest potential to drive Namibia’s economic growth.

At the same time, our expansion activities will focus on encouraging and facilitating consistency in standards of qualifications delivered by all VET institutions; both public and private. For the NTA to be deemed a ‘national’ regulator, we would have to marshal the entire VET sector (VTCs, COSDECs, NIMT, private VET institutions and employers as on-the-job trainers) within a national competency-based training, assessment and qualifications framework to deliver needed skills for the national economic development cause, under the national co-ordination of the NTA.

A regulator for VET is essential in skills acquisition, which in turn is vital for an economy to compete and grow, particularly in an era of economic integration and technological change.

Skills needs are widespread in most developing countries – they are not only demanded by the modern wage sector but also by the agricultural and informal sectors.

VET is a direct means of providing workers with skills more relevant to the evolving needs of employers and the economy. A VET system should not only be efficient, cost-effective and equitable but must be linked directly to industry needs and requirements.

PF: There was a lot of disgruntlement from trainees when you took over. You have even been locked up at one of the centres during a familiarisation visit. What have you done to resolve such issues?

The NTA is not just about securing incremental improvements on what has already been achieved but about securing fundamental change in our training arrangements in Namibia. However, such transformational change is never easy and it takes time to effect. And a many times, people are scared of change. I came on board at a time when the NTA was busy introducing the Competency-Based Education and Training system to eventually replace the old modular system.

While on a familiarisation visit to the State-owned VTCs, the trainees at the Valombola VTC in Ongwediva expressed their reservations about the new system and threatened that we meet their demands or there would be consequences.

However, the decision to phase in the CBET system to eventually replace the modular system was started in 2004, long before I joined the NTA. Yes, we were locked up but eventually managed to diffuse the situation.

It’s inevitable that there will always be the occasional disgruntlement. Because, no matter how good a service is, or how committed you are to provide the best service, problems do occur. But, our philosophy at the NTA is to do the best for our trainees, and all our stakeholders for that matter, at all times.

We have made good progress in inculcating this shared philosophy. We say: “It is never a personal attack; it is an opportunity to improve on our services”.

PF: The current school system and curriculum does not include VET subjects. Some experts feel that this has contributed significantly to the high rate of drop-outs and the low pass rate at Grade 10 and Grade 12 levels. This has in turn put pressure on Government resources to allow repetition and to find opportunities for these young people. Do you agree?

MNR: Wholeheartedly. In fact, in reference to my earlier comment on the academically inclined versus the technically-inclined, we need to ask ourselves whether we are indeed paying sufficient attention to that lower 30% of any school cohort that is weaker in academic achievements within the education system or not.

A look at the countries included in the “Learning for Jobs” report, which is a well-known OECD 17-country study, we can say that: Countries with strong VET pathways have the highest rates of upper secondary completion and the lowest youth unemployment.

VET appears to keep students (who might have otherwise dropped out) in school, although it is true that VET in general has lower completion rates than the academic pathway.

Austria, Germany and Switzerland, for example, have the majority of students in their VET systems and have graduation rates above 90%.

These countries have also kept their youth unemployment rates between five and eight percent in the economic crisis while in comparison, US rates have risen to 20%. The bottom line is that countries with strong VET systems have almost everyone in school through ages 18 and/or 19, attaining work experiences or preparing for university studies.

Compared to these countries, Namibia is lagging behind and one can ascribe it to the fact that VET subjects have been taken out of school curricula. However, our leaders seem to have reconsidered their stance and plans are underway to bring back such subjects into the school curricula soon.

PF: The NTA is empowered by the VET Act to collect a Training Levy from employers and use this money towards expanding VET. What progress have you made towards this objective?

Skilled human resources is widely recognised as a main contributor to economic growth and competitiveness.

However, in Namibia, there is a serious under-provision of demand-led training opportunities, which constrains key aspects of economic growth.

Within this context, it is necessary to introduce specific interventions such as a levy scheme to supplement and fund the development and establishment of applicable systems and processes, to ensure that demand-led training is available to meet the needs of the employed, the unemployed and the disadvantaged.

We anticipate that the implementation of the National Training Fund and associated Training Levy scheme will support and drive the growth of the VET sector.

The rationale is simple; mobilising additional resources means that the quality and quantity of skills development can be accomplished; that skills shortages constraining enterprise development can be reduced and productivity and incomes and/or profits can be enhanced.

We have made considerable progress, the key priority areas of the Levy Pilot have commenced in earnest with the evaluation, selection and approval of eight service providers with a possibility of two more expected to come on board.

Service Level Agreements for eight providers have been agreed upon and signed. An evaluation of the procurement and implementation processes will now commence and continue as implementation proceeds.

Central to the implementation and the transparent and accountable administration of the Training Levy is the National Training Fund Council, which is a Board committee under the able leadership of well-known economist, Martin Mwinga.

The establishment of the Council and the support, advice and recommendations it will provide will be invaluable to the implementation of the Training Levy. VET certainly is an expensive exercise, even though Government, the industry or the private sector funds the necessary investment. The overall issue is whether the VET system attracts and responds to those who need and can best benefit from it.

PF: How do you deal with resistance from employers who might be of the opinion that the levy is another form of taxation that will not serve their interests?

MNR: Training systems in many developing countries are confronted with trying to develop strategies about how to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness.

While there are many important elements to such a strategy, one important issue is that of financing training. Furthermore, in many developing countries, government budgets constitute a vulnerable and unreliable source of financing for training.

Thus, an important objective in the funding of any VET system is to increase the contribution of beneficiaries – both employers and trainees.

Now, when we started off with the crafting of a framework for the implementation of the Training Levy, we identified, as a critical factor to the successful implementation of the proposed system, the involvement of key stakeholders such as industry in the development stages.

And after extensive consultations with these stakeholders, the NTA Board (in March this year) endorsed a framework under which the NTA will act as the collection agent and the Levy Rate will be 1.5% of employers’ total annual payroll.

We have kick-started an information dissemination campaign to inform our industry stakeholders about the framework.

Whereas we have encountered stakeholders who have welcomed the introduction of a Training Levy, we have similarly encounter sentiments from stakeholders who deem it as another form of taxation and as a threat to their profit margins.

So, from a taxation angle, there has been resistance. However, we believe that through consultations with employers, we can take note of and incorporate their concerns into the framework.

Very soon, we will roll out a national roadshow to all major urban centres across the country to inform employers about the Training Levy and to source their buy-in.

We need to persuade them to view the Training Levy as a way through which all employers can collectively invest in the provision of workforce training to raise skills.

It should be noted, though, that the current framework makes provision for exemptions. This include charitable and public educational institutions; employers with an annual payroll of less than N$350 000, regional councils and regulatory and service-rendering State-owned enterprises, amongst others.

PF: How much funding do you get from Government to run your entity and how much from donors? Are you satisfied with the current funding model and how do you think an ideal funding scenario should look like?

MNR: Currently, Government and donors fund the NTA. Under the current Mid-Term Economic Framework (MTEF) period, Government allocation for the 2012/13 financial year is in excess of N$234m and we anticipate a slight increase to just over N$244m for the 2013/14 financial year.

Donor funding varies from year to year. Our main donors include South Korea, the United States and Germany. Just last month, the NTA signed an agreement with the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation through the Millennium Challenge Account-Namibia (MCA-N), worth more than N$40m.

The money is to be distributed to nine training partners; public and private members of the NTA, to enable them to fulfill their mandate of providing Namibians, especially the youth, with the necessary skills to successfully enter the job market after training.

These institutions will now train a total of 1 320 trainees in priority training areas, over the next two years.

However, this is not a sustainable funding model at all and we anticipate that the contributions to be generated by the collection of the Training Levy will add considerably to the capacity and sustainability of our funding model. Government has the same expectation. That is why for the 2014/15 financial year the Government allocation is set to decrease to about N$180m.

The world over, training provision is increasingly becoming the responsibility of the private sector. Industry players need to come on board, take up this responsibility and lessen the burden on Government. The Training Levy is a step in the right direction. PF

Personal Profile

Since joining the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) as its Chief Executive Officer in 2010, Maria Nangolo-Rukoro has cemented her reputation as a capable strategic management leader and astute future thinker.

Her pivotal leadership, intrinsic flair for innovation and creative problem-solving coupled with measured risk-taking skills has driven the successful transformation of the NTA towards the delivery of its mandate of regulating and funding vocational education and training.

A shrewd professional attuned to the changing needs of business, Nangolo-Rukoro is also renowned for her demonstrated skills towards partnering solutions with organisational strategies, operations and goals. She has over 11 years of successful and progressive senior management experience, of which four were spent as a technical advisor in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Nangolo-Rukoro read for a BA (Hons) Social Work and Community Development degree at the University of Namibia, which she augmented with a Postgraduate Diploma in Organisational Behaviour and Development and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Finance Management from the University of London’s Birckbeck College is currently being undertaken.

She also holds a Masters in Business Administration degree majoring in Strategic Management from the Maastricht School of Business Management. PF