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EXPANSION OF TVET – CRUCIAL TO DEVELOPMENT

As a first-year student at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre in 1999, Parastus Nepolo started his business with the aim of using his skills to make a difference. Today, 40-year-old Nepolo is living his dream. A qualified air conditioning and refrigeration technician; Nepolo is the founder of Millennium Refrigeration and Electrical, a company that has a countrywide footprint, employing 140 Namibians and takes on at least 300 interns a year.

All the way from Omusati Region, Nepolo noted that his success did not come on a silver platter, but through hard work, punctuated by both trials and errors.Describing himself as someone who always had an interest in working with his hands, after matric; Nepolo registered himself at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre. His objective was to become an air-conditioning and refrigeration technician. After the four-year programme, he went full scale into his business.

Today, his company specializes in the installation of domestic and industrial air-conditioning and refrigeration systems.

During a one-on-one at their headquarters, (located at single quarters, Katutura), Nepolo stated that his greatest pride is giving opportunities to students. “By training interns, we are shaping the economy of the country. As a business, we must make sure we do our part. We need these young people. Namibia needs these young men and women, but we need to prepare them properly,” he said.

Nepolo is a firm believer in technical and vocational education training and its potential to revolutionalise any economy. “Vocational education is the backbone of an economy. When I started, I found that much of our basic labour is imported from South Africa; even basic skills such as plumbing, yet we have local graduates.” He added that when outsourcing basic labour, we are sending money out of the country. Managing a competitive enterprise is a daunting task but Nepolo is not alone. He is aided by highly competent branch managers who are VET graduates and own shares in the business. He said that his dream is to own a vocational training academy at the Town of Oshikuku, which can fill the gap of skills needed by the sector as currently the VTC’s only offer training programmes from level one to four. “My goal now is to offer vocational education training from level four until level six. I want to marry the training from the academy, at the same time provide internship opportunities. Developing the country is everybody's’ business,” said Nepolo. 

In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the company, Nepolo has expanded into the hospitality sector (Oshikuku Town Lodge), construction sector (Pararo Investment Construction and Plumbing), farming and veterinary (Paras Animal Vets & Veterinary). Staying true to his passion for technical vocational education training, Nepolo stays abreast of developments in the air-conditioning and refrigeration sub-sectors. He currently serves on the Namibia Training Authority Technical Working Group; responsible for the development of training curricula in this area. 

He is the Patron of Onampila Combined School in Oshana Region and is a supporter of the school’s excellence program where he sponsors cash prizes to top academic performers. His former primary school Emvula Combined School has named a sports field after him after he supported the school with sports equipment and upgrading work. He also sponsors boxers. Under the Harambee Prosperity Plan, Vocational Skills Development Pillar, the government aims to expand technical and vocational education and training footprint and intake across the country.  

Expansion of TVET – crucial to development

As a first-year student at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre in 1999, Parastus Nepolo started his business with the aim of using his skills to make a difference. Today, 40-year-old Nepolo is living his dream. A qualified air conditioning and refrigeration technician; Nepolo is the founder of Millennium Refrigeration and Electrical, a company that has a countrywide footprint, employing 140 Namibians and takes on at least 300 interns a year. All the way from Omusati Region, Nepolo noted that his success did not come on a silver platter, but through hard work, punctuated by both trials and errors.

Describing himself as someone who always had an interest in working with his hands, after matric; Nepolo registered himself at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre. His objective was to become an air-conditioning and refrigeration technician. After the four-year programme, he went full scale into his business. Today, his company specializes in the installation of domestic and industrial air-conditioning and refrigeration systems.

During a one-on-one at their headquarters, (located at single quarters, Katutura), Nepolo stated that his greatest pride is giving opportunities to students. “By training interns, we are shaping the economy of the country. As a business, we must make sure we do our part. We need these young people. Namibia needs these young men and women, but we need to prepare them properly,” he said.

Nepolo is a firm believer in technical and vocational education training and its potential to revolutionalise any economy. “Vocational education is the backbone of an economy. When I started, I found that much of our basic labour is imported from South Africa; even basic skills such as plumbing, yet we have local graduates.” He added that when outsourcing basic labour, we are sending money out of the country.

Managing a competitive enterprise is a daunting task but Nepolo is not alone. He is aided by highly competent branch managers who are VET graduates and own shares in the business. He said that his dream is to own a vocational training academy at the Town of Oshikuku, which can fill the gap of skills needed by the sector as currently the VTC’s only offer training programmes from level one to four. “My goal now is to offer vocational education training from level four until level six. I want to marry the training from the academy, at the same time provide internship opportunities. Developing the country is everybody's’ business,” said Nepolo. 

In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the company, Nepolo has expanded into the hospitality sector (Oshikuku Town Lodge), construction sector (Pararo Investment Construction and Plumbing), farming and veterinary (Paras Animal Vets & Veterinary). Staying true to his passion for technical vocational education training, Nepolo stays abreast of developments in the air-conditioning and refrigeration sub-sectors. He currently serves on the Namibia Training Authority Technical Working Group; responsible for the development of training curricula in this area. 

He is the Patron of Onampila Combined School in Oshana Region and is a supporter of the school’s excellence program where he sponsors cash prizes to top academic performers. His former primary school Emvula Combined School has named a sports field after him after he supported the school with sports equipment and upgrading work. He also sponsors boxers. Under the Harambee Prosperity Plan, Vocational Skills Development Pillar, the government aims to expand technical and vocational education and training footprint and intake across the country.  

This programme is managed by the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation.

 

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Private Bag 13339, Windhoek

Tel: 264 (61) 270 7111

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