Dr. Kipkirui Langat
WorldSkills Africa Swakopmund 2022 (WSAS2022) was a three-tier event hosted by WorldSkills Namibia in partnership with WorldSkills International and the African Union. The event included Skills Competition, TVET Conference and Careers Exhibition which took place at Swakopmund, Namibia from 28th March to 2nd April 2022.
The objective of the skills competition was to empower and inspire African youth to pursue personal and economic fulfilment through the power of skills. During the competition, over 100 youths battled out in sixteen skills areas to showcase their competencies based on industry occupational standards. Kenya participated in restaurant services, cooking and mechatronics and managed to get gold and bronze medals for restaurant services and cooking respectively, and the third position in mechatronics. The focus now for the teams is on preparation for the international WorldSkills competition that will take place this October in Shanghai, China.
The three-day TVET conference brought together policymakers, TVET experts, and industry and development partners from across the world. The theme of the conference was Promoting Skills Development in the 21st Century for Sustainable Economic Growth and African Ownership. The conference provided a platform for knowledge generation and sharing of experience in effective TVET systems, technology, gender and social inclusion, and TVET funding models.
There exists a symbiotic relationship between technology and TVET as technological and societal developments, climate change, environmental degradation and scarcity of resources are the order of the day. TVET is a key player in addressing these developments through the transfer of knowledge and skills. Additionally, in recent years there has been an increased focus on the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and artificial intelligence (AI) for the management and delivery of TVET. ICT and AI are now considered by many governments as critical components of a responsive, demand-driven TVET system tasked with meeting the needs of trainees for more flexible individualised training. Also, a new world of manufacturing and cognitive services demanded new skills to drive the revolution and therefore increased the demand for higher cognitive, social, emotional and technological skills.
Although TVET is a socio-economic enabler for supplying skills needed for inclusive and sustainable growth and the creation of cohesive societies, TVET systems in most African countries still experience many challenges like skills mismatches, weak industry and stakeholder participation, and incompetent TVET teachers.
In order to address some of the challenges, countries should consider working on anticipation of future skills needs as a key preventative measure to avoid skills mismatch. This will require the development and implementation of a comprehensive Labour Market Information System (LMIS) to assess the extent to which qualifications and skills of persons in employment correspond to Job requirements and also skills deficits resulting from technical, structural and demographic changes. LMIS can also provide policymakers with up to date and forward-looking information for the development of skills and employment policies and strategies.
Also, the introduction of CBET addresses the issue of skills mismatch as learning is best measured by students demonstrating mastery of learning, rather than the number of hours spent in a classroom. This should also be integrated with greening TVET to equip the workforce with the necessary skills to perform well in the workplace and also to enhance essential knowledge and competencies to cope with existing and future social, economic and ecological challenges. Successful implementation of CBET requires Private sector engagement, advisory and partnership. This will facilitate curriculum development/review, assessment and certification, and updating of national qualification frameworks to provide learning pathways for TVET graduates.
TVET Teacher training is becoming more crucial over time due to the widening gap between the TVET graduates’ skills and the labour market demands in a rapidly changing world of work. Proper training of the TVET Teachers is essential for the implementation of CBET in order to fulfil the labour market needs and for the teachers to be able to deliver the required skills, especially in the Work-Based Learning context. Also, 21st Century skills and life-long-learning abilities are increasingly becoming an essential part to be integrated into the curriculum regardless of the individual field of study.
Gender and social inclusion are emerging areas in TVET. The marginalisation of women and persons with disabilities leads to many countries losing out on the possibility of utilising the potential of this human capital. It is not only a loss for the local community, but also for national development and growth. This has put increasing pressure on governments to improve gender equality, especially with regard to women’s enrolment in male-dominated TVET courses. In addition, the emancipation of girls and women through TVET, with a view to allowing them to enter the labour market and thus contribute significantly to their family’s income, is a key contribution to poverty alleviation. Also, inclusion plays a critical role in maintaining equity, which allows persons with disabilities to produce and reach equal outcomes along with their abled competitors. Therefore, creating inclusive TVET must take a holistic approach to provide a safe space for learning, by promoting an accessible and barrier-free environment regardless of a student’s identity and ability.
Despite interest in TVET programmatic expansion by many African countries due to its role in national development, it remains largely underfinanced. This is because it is regarded as an expensive form of education compared to general education and also the low share of the public budget dedicated to TVET compared to other levels of training. Since lack of funding has been one of the challenges affecting the TVET sector in most African countries, some have introduced training levy systems, where certain industries that meet the legal requirements contribute a certain percentage of payroll in the form of skills levy. For example, the majority of the South African Development Community (SADC) countries in addition to government budget levies are based on a percentage of payroll which is an average of 1% with exception of Tanzania which is 4.5%. The money is utilised for employer training, financing key priority areas and administration at an average of 50%, 35% and 15% respectively and is accessible to both public and private institutions. In other countries, the levies are fragmented and collected by different players sometimes resulting in the double collection. Generally, most fiscal budget allocations to TVET in the majority of countries fall far below the international spending threshold of 20% set by the Dakar Framework for Education, as well as the 22% SADCC benchmark. It is important therefore to note that TVET systems must be adequately and sustainably funded to transform with technological and labour market changes to remain relevant.
The author is the Director-General of TVETA