Online courses fill a gap

In Namibia, challenges persist, particularly in freight forwarding, supply chain management, and logistics due to a shortage of skilled professionals. And as technology evolves, the need for these specialised skills becomes increasingly apparent, says Juliette Fourie, managing director of Metro Minds.

“The technology advancements taking place in Namibia will need a certain skill set to adapt and embrace. The positive developments and economic growth that the country is experiencing will also require new skills sets like leadership, strategic planning and good management and financial practices. Currently, there are only two universities in Namibia – the University of Namibia and the Namibia University of Science and Technology – where you can only study a master’s degree in supply chain with only a few private providers focusing on freight forwarding and customs compliance.”

With this in mind, Metro Minds has broadened its scope, with the QCTO Accredited NQF 5 Clearing & Forwarding Agent, BCom Freight Forwarding and Customs Compliance, numerous short courses, and interactive software available online. This allows countries across Africa to access the necessary means to improve skills. “The focus for Africa is bigger than ever as various countries’ economic outlook is stronger than South Africa. We have shown many successes in recent Africa projects and will continue our drive on quality skills programmes.”

According to Fourie, Namibia is undergoing significant shifts across various sectors. Renewable energy is emerging as a key focus, leveraging the country’s abundant solar and wind energy potential to meet energy needs sustainably. Government initiatives and private sector investments are propelling this transition towards renewable sources. Namibia’s mining industry, particularly uranium and diamond mining, remains a vital pillar of the economy, with increased exploration activities and investments driven by rising global demand for minerals. Namibia’s natural landscapes, wildlife, and cultural heritage are attracting growing numbers of tourists. The tourism sector is experiencing steady growth, with a commitment to sustainable practices to preserve the environment and cultural assets.

Namibia is embracing technological advancements, evident in the increasing digitisation across industries. Innovations in e-commerce, digital payment systems, and telecommunications infrastructure are fostering economic growth and efficiency, aligning Namibia with global technological trends.The economic outlook also remains promising, despite challenges. “The government’s commitment to infrastructure development and economic diversification initiatives sets a positive trajectory for long-term growth and stability.”

Namibia’s economy is gradually diversifying beyond traditional sectors like mining, with a heightened emphasis on renewable energy, tourism, and technology-driven industries,” says Fourie. “In light of all the trends and developments in the country, training institutes have various avenues for skills development to explore. Tailored training programmes can address skill shortages and enhance workforce capabilities in this crucial sector.”

Fourie says despite challenges such as infrastructure limitations and skills shortages, Namibia’s logistics sector presents opportunities for skills development in supply chain management, freight forwarding, and logistics planning. “As Namibia embraces technological advancements, there is a demand for skilled professionals in areas such as e-commerce, digital marketing, and telecommunications. Training programmes in digital skills, cybersecurity, and data analytics can empower individuals to leverage technology effectively and drive economic growth and efficiency.”

‘Sweet spot’ for trainers in new tech work world

As the industry braces for a brave new world of automation, robotics, wearable technology and autonomous vehicles, the world of work is set for dramatic change.“With the increased use of technology – soft, medium and high – a number of jobs and functions may become redundant,” says Juliette Fourie, CEO of training provider Metro Minds.

“That doesn’t speak to our National Skills Plan targets at all and could be seen as a barrier against technology,” she says. “The use of technology could also possibly impact the thinking process and result in a lack of critical thinking. If processes are so automated that the person cannot think out of the box or solve a complex problem, it could be to the detriment of a business.” On the up side, however, in the education space digital learning and simulation have helped to develop people who are more work ready and more productive, says Fourie.

She points out that while technology can assist in many processes, it cannot replace customer engagement and the managing of relationships between stakeholders. “This will become a more scarce skill due to the different way in which we communicate. This remains an area where coaching, mentoring and skills development has a sweet spot in the evolution of technology.” And Fourie believes that technology and innovation should work together. “We have been able to identify many innovations in our business – using soft, medium and hard technology – to optimise education. “In addition to our “Act it Out Customs Simulator” and Workplace Simulators – which have already achieved great success – new products are in the pipeline … watch this space.”

Integration key to successful distribution

A successful distribution strategy is based on the successful integration of systems, technology, people, processes and innovation. An effective system, along with proper training of staff and educating the client on the process and timelines will ensure on-time delivery. This is the view of Juliette Fourie, CEO of specialist training company Metro Minds, which offers the National Certificate: Supply Chain Management NQF Level 5 with a specialisation in distribution and logistics.

What is necessary, she says, is a vision from a company’s leadership to understand the holistic picture in order to align the business strategy with the distribution strategy. Fourie believes technology is “extremely important” in ensuring a successful distribution model, along with the knowledge and understanding of how to properly deploy it to improve business processes. “Technology does not start and stop with the internet or IT systems. It is about how technology has contributed to customer satisfaction, effective processes, automation, time-saving, cost reduction at input level and value-adding activities at the output level,” she comments, pointing out that technology is not discussed and explored enough at secondary and tertiary education levels.

Metro Minds has placed in the finals twice in a row in the Da Vinci Top Technology 100 (TT100) Business Innovation Awards Programme for what Fourie describes as the company’s ability to bring innovation in technology in the way it provides its training. The workplace simulators implemented by Metro Minds last year – providing real-life work experiences via simulation – focus on logistics and distribution as an area of specialisation.

“Workplace simulators are recommended for first-time industry and job entrants but could also form part of the related logistics learnerships, using the existing education successes and integrating workplace simulation into the programmes,” explains Fourie. She adds that the simulation is also used in Metro Minds’ skills programmes for employed staff to upskill, refresh and evaluate their skills levels.