Kenya has the power to reorient itself towards sustainable development using technical, vocational education and training (TVET) as a vehicle for socio-economic and technological development. A review of the current TVET curriculum would ensure the right skills set for economic growth, poverty alleviation, youth and women’s empowerment and social inclusion.
The earmarking of a national skills inventory by the government, backed by an efficient labor market information system will ensure that skills training are based on the appropriate demand and through this the informal sector will provide a wide range of employment opportunities in the country.
The need to delink TVETs with failure in academics is therefore essential. This notion was created by the colonial education system meant to train Africans who were considered weak in class in skills so that they could provide cheap labor. An increase in advocacy for improvement in the informal sector as a whole would, therefore, be deemed timely to help bridge the huge gap created with many young people not ready to be associated with this sector.
In the building and construction sector, for instance, an increase in infrastructure projects and also a need for proper housing for the Kenyan mass has created the need for expertise in the field which has been flooded by unqualified personnel as witnessed by the collapse of various buildings while under construction in the country. The need for qualified personnel was also witnessed by the importation of technical personnel, during the construction of large projects like the Thika Super Highway.
The private sector has a huge role to play in the development of skilled labor. Many infrastructure projects being undertaken by the private sector compels the sector to play a role in training and developing personnel with international credentials. The rapid infrastructural growth in the country has also led to the need to ensure that skilled personnel is available.
The on-going training and mentorship programme by the HF foundation through the “Army of 1 Million Artisans” which aims to have artisans in the construction field trained and help them access practical internship opportunities, is manifest of how the private sector can play a role in ensuring that technical skills are harnessed to ensure we are at par with the global requirements in the sector.
HF Group, through its Foundation, is the first private firm to a spearhead the Vision 2030 flagship project that intends to create an ‘Army of 1 Million Artisans’. In this initiative HF Foundation in partnership with various stakeholders endeavors to improve access to employment opportunities through facilitating skills development and enhancement for technical workers especially in the building industry.
The growing need for linking education to market demand has led to closer collaboration between industry players, training institutions, and the Government. The notable mismatch between supply and demand for skilled labor has led to widespread underemployment in the informal sector. This has led to a need for decisive development of technical training institutions. Through an intensive campaign to improve the technical institutions, the government and private sector can raise the quality of training in technical institutions. This would include ensuring that technical institutions are available in every ward in the country to ensure more people have access to them.
The need to link training to employment is the reason why enterprises should be deeply involved in determining the content of training so that this becomes more relevant to the workplace. Furthermore, entrepreneurship has been integrated into Technical Education and Training as part of the curriculum to provide trainees with business techniques.
Technical, vocational education and training which is demand driven will ultimately lead to the development of the country and in the same stride promote an entrepreneurship culture so as to offer a wide range of employment opportunities to the youth and other members of the society.
This article was written Caroline Sikasa, Senior Programme Manager, HF Foundation.