THE Lesotho Opportunities Industrialisation Centre (LOIC) is introducing new training programmes to stimulate the impact of its products in the market.
The institution, which was established in 1978 to offer vocational entrepreneurial training and development skills to the economically challenged sectors of the population, has seen its market influence and public image tumbling over the past few years.
LOIC hopes to change its fortunes by going into strategic partnerships, which would allow for improved output and the introduction of new programmes altogether.
LOIC’s acting executive director Mpho Letuka said discussions are on-going with a South African training institute and an agreement between the two would usher in a new dispensation which would improve both institutions.
“Although discussions are underway between the authorities of both institutions, the plan is to have a working relationship with one institution from South Africa, which if approved, we will engage in exchange programmes where their teachers can come and teach here or our students can go to them for learning and vice versa,” Mr Letuka said.
He said their aim is to respond to the needs of the country so that economic growth, which is essential in job creation and poverty reduction, can be facilitated.
“This is to improve the quality of our programmes in view of the current market demands. For instance, we are having an emerging mining industry in the country which needs boiler-makers and that is why we are looking at introducing the boiler-making programme through this strategic partnership.”
He further said that other new programmes that could be offered under the partnership would be diesel mechanics in response to its growing need given the on-going Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II.
“Employers have often complained that there is a skills mismatch in the market so we are going into strategic partnerships to alleviate that challenge.”
The institution is unique from others as it offers training to what was known as Standard Seven and Junior Certificate holders in brick-laying and plastering, carpentry, plumbing and sheet metal work, while it also offers COSC holders training in electrical installation and solar energy.
Last Friday, LOIC which currently has 191 students, held a graduation ceremony where 96 students.
In his address at the ceremony, Mr Letuka indicated that their former students would be engaged to produce vendor shacks/stalls to reduce costs incurred by the government.
He said the capacity-building project, which is initiated by the Ministry of Small Business Development through the Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO), started in November this year and would cover Maseru, Leribe and Mohale’s Hoek.
“The project will be beneficial to our former students as it will offer them jobs.
“The government decided that instead of sourcing contractors to produce the shacks, which would be costly, it was decided to engage the institution’s former students.
“The project started last week and will be in Maseru for the next two months. The aim is to have covered the three districts by the end of the current financial year (at the end of March 2019).”
For his part, principal secretary of the Small Business ministry Lerata Pekane said that the project has a budget of about M5 million. He added the project would see at least 30 former students of the institution being engaged.