Shortage of agricultural skills in Nam: Beukes

31 Oct 2014 18:30pm
WINDHOEK, 31 OCT (NAMPA) - The Promotion of Vocational Education and Training Project (ProVet) handed over certificates of competence to 19 agricultural trainers here on Friday.
ProVet is a joint initiative of the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) and the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ).
The trainers - agricultural scientific officers and agricultural technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s Division of Product Development, Training and Quality Assurance - completed an eight-month course in occupationally directed education, training and development practices.
Speaking at the handing over, the NTA's Chief Operations Officer (COO) Jerry Beukes said skills development in the local agriculture sector is proving to be a bit of a challenge for the NTA and ProVet.
He explained that this is because although local higher institutions of learning such as the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) and the University of Namibia (Unam) currently offer formal higher education qualifications in agriculture, agricultural skills training in Namibia is available only through a limited number of informal short courses offered by various government, non-government and private training providers.
He noted that so far, there are no accredited lower-level vocational training courses and qualifications for agriculture registered on the National Qualifications Framework.
Namibians working in agriculture such as farm labourers or small to medium and large scale farmers would either have acquired agricultural skills and competencies through on-the-job training from informal training courses or from parents and grandparents, he said.
“Considering these challenges, the NTA deems this certification ceremony a significant milestone in our ongoing enterprise to address the enormous skills shortage that exists in the agriculture sector,” he said.
Beukes gave his assurance that the NTA under the terms of reference of the ProVet project will continue to create an enabling environment for training in the Agriculture and Forestry sectors at Levels Two and Five on the National Qualifications Framework.
This will entail developing not only the relevant unit standards and qualifications, assessment materials and curricula, but also supporting training institutions in growing a group of local qualified trainers who are conversant with the technical aspects of agriculture training and possess sound knowledge and skills in Competency-Based Education and Training (CBET) principles to agricultural training.
Also speaking at the event was the Deputy Director of Training in the Ministry of Agriculture, Johanna Andowa, who said the ministry seeks to redress the critical skills shortage experienced in the agricultural sector and aims to increase contribution of the agricultural sector through the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Programme to the country's Gross Domestic Product as per the fourth National Development Plan (NDP4).
“This initiative is also aimed at promoting human resource and skills development in the agriculture sector,” she added.
To achieve this objective, she noted that the infrastructure at the ministry’s training institutions namely the Mashare Agricultural Development Institute and Tsumis Arid Zone Agricultural Centre where trainees will do their one-year training in crop and livestock husbandry level are being upgraded to be ready for the implementation of the CBET programme in agriculture come 2015.
The eight-month course which was facilitated by VeryCoolIdeas of South Africa was supported financially by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.