Uniting for a brighter future

Youth empowerment takes centre stage
The Namibia National Internship Programme (NNIP) unites industry partners, universities and corporate entities by offering a lifeline to Namibian youth attempting to bridge the gap between studies and jobs.
Jemimah Ndebele
In the heart of Namibia's educational landscape, a transformative initiative has unfolded. The Namibia National Internship Programme (NNIP) is paving the way for the country's youth. Industry partners, universities, and corporate entities are coming together, weaving a tapestry of support that aims to bridge the gap between academia and industry, fostering a generation of skilled professionals ready to contribute to the nation's growth.
At its core, the NNIP serves as a lifeline for Namibian students. With over 48 000 students seeking internships each year to graduate, the programme's importance cannot be overstated. With financial backing from MTC and its partners, the initiative not only facilitates internships but also provides a monthly stipend, recognising the financial support essential for meaningful intern experiences.

Meeting demand
A marker of the programme's innovative spirit is the launch of an in-house application last year. This software streamlines the selection and admission processes while also acting as a hub for data collection and reporting. Industry partners hosting interns can submit comprehensive reports, offering stakeholders a clear view of the programme's impact. This commitment to data-driven insights is crucial for evaluating success and refining the programme's effectiveness.
The NNIP, initiated by MTC, is set to expand its scope through a strategic collaboration that welcomes industry players to join hands. Chief human capital and corporate affairs officer at MTC, Tim Ekandjo, highlighted the staggering demand for internship opportunities. "The demand is high, as the following numbers prove. In 2019, we invested in 147 interns. This number decreased to 91 during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Post-pandemic, the numbers rose to 161, and last year we invested in 175 students. This year, we are currently at 230. That is a mere 0.48% of the widely known target of 48 000 per year. We have expended a total amount of N$9 million to date."
The collaborative approach underscores the belief that, together, greater strides can be made in shaping the trajectory of Namibian youth. Ekandjo stressed the importance of unity, stating, "Succeeding together is the answer; why reinvent the wheel? Just board the internship train and take pleasure in the trip."
Ensuring the quality of the internship programme remains uncompromised is a challenge that the NNIP is determined to address. Ekandjo acknowledged this obstacle, saying, "Unfortunately, the number of interns we can allow is restricted by the industry's demands. To conquer this challenge, we require more funding partners along with businesses that are willing to open their doors to provide interns with the necessary on-the-job learning. The quality is preserved by holding all stakeholders accountable to the predetermined quality standards."

Success stories
The NNIP's success stories lie in the narratives of its beneficiaries. Alumni like Edmund Chizengeya and Steffi Divine offer first-hand insights into how the programme has been instrumental in shaping their careers. Chizengeya, a bachelor of civil and environmental engineering graduate from NUST, said: "Before the programme, I had been looking for an internship for almost a year. Having been placed at the company that I did my internship with through the programme, I was able to complete my coursework and eventually graduated. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that was provided to me by the MTC National Internship Programme."
Steffi Divine, a diploma in record and archiving management graduate from Unam, echoed the sentiment of the programme as a career catalyst. "It has taught me greatly, and because of this programme, I was able to obtain a job where I did my internship. Which is thus helping me grow and shape a great future for myself in the work industry."

Reaching goals
Aligning with the NNIP's objectives, Unam has also emerged as a key player in the collaborative movement. With curricular transformations in 2022, the demand for diverse work-integrated education models has surged, making the financial support from the MTC National Internship Programme crucial to realising these aspirations.
The collaboration between Unam and the MTC programme has yielded remarkable benefits for both parties. "Numerous individuals who participated in the programme gained precious workplace exposure, which, in turn, translated into employment opportunities within the university itself," Unam’s spokesperson Simon Namesho revealed.

Experienced workforce
The Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (Nimt) has also thrown its weight behind the initiative. Recognising the significance of success, Nimt joined hands with MTC and other partners to bolster the programme's impact. "We definitely need to continue with the programme to provide more opportunities to the youth. If more companies can take part in the internship programme, we can equip the country with a much more experienced workforce. There is no doubt that the more we put into it, the more we can get out of it," said NIMT’s Ralph Bussel.
Furthermore, earlier this year, Standard Bank Namibia positioned itself as the first corporate entity to join the NNIP. Their contribution of N$200 000 set the foundation for this collaborative journey.
Adding a new layer of strength to this collaborative endeavour, Old Mutual Namibia has generously contributed N$300 000 to the NNIP. Mignon du Preez, Old Mutual Namibia group marketing, public affairs and sustainability executive, explained: "Being a young person in today's job market can be tough, and that's why Old Mutual Namibia is proud to support the Namibia National Internship Programme."
As the NNIP, its partners, and contributors unite their efforts, the future shines bright for Namibian youth. The programme's collaborative approach underscores its commitment to empowering a generation poised to contribute significantly to the country's development and progress.