Dr Kipkirui Langat

The strength of the workforce of any nation can be defined by the range of its skilled and semi-skilled labour force. Therefore, the key characteristic feature of TVET is its ability to impart skills applicable to particular employable trades. All over the world, human capital is considered a driving factor for economic progress, hence, investment in TVET to generate skilled resources is critical.

Human resources are crucial as they mobilise other resources such as financial and natural resources to enhance economic growth. TVET despite being more costly than general education, is considered more industrious as it provides employable skills and thus holds instrumental values for workforce development.

Developing nations with bigger economies require skills development to maintain their growth strategy while developing nations with small economies and underdeveloped nations need skills development for entering new growth industries. It is for these reasons that developing nations have to prioritise TVET in their policies and development plans. Most of them have developed national skills development policies to guide all the stakeholders in producing the required human resources for the present and future development aspirations.

The key purpose of TVET is to offer courses with relevant skills to fit in the labour market. The set of skills the graduates acquire helps them to be marketable in the industries and get employment. Skills development offers graduates more opportunities to get well-paid and productive jobs thus increasing the quality of livelihoods. Hence both soft and hard skills development hold a significantly positive nexus with employment.

There is also a positive relationship between skills development and a productive workforce as a skilled workforce has access to the labour market for decent jobs which then has a chain effect on economic growth. Properly functional TVET makes the human resources skilful hence making them more productive.

TVET is taken as a tool for generating job opportunities and income both in the formal and informal sectors and thus holds a more significant role in spurring economic growth at all levels. TVET helps raise employment opportunities for developing nations especially in rural areas and in most cases, it has been used as a strategy for economic growth in these areas. Nations that have heavily invested in skill-centred TVET have not only prepared youths for local markets but also for foreign employment opportunities, thus reducing the unemployment rate drastically. In fact, it has been found that there is a positive relationship between investment in the TVET sector and a high rate of transition to employment by TVET graduates.

Implementation of Competency Based Training in TVET in developed economies has allowed individuals to move to other jobs within the industry rather than having to stick with a one-lifetime occupation thus bringing flexibility in coping with new environments and transferring skills and knowledge to new emerging situations.

This has allowed the development of competencies in workers and strengthened their opportunities for employment.

In less developed nations, TVET still suffers a poor image due to the misalignment of curricula and the labour market coupled with poor resources making it comparatively more difficult to creation of employment opportunities. Thus, a strong policy-embedded TVET system holds substantial significance in ensuring that TVET at all times addresses the skills requirements of the country.

The potential labour force in developing nations faces serious gaps in knowledge, especially in emerging technologies and innovation and therefore a transfer of knowledge and skills through TVET, in addition to soft skills can be the solution to bridging the gaps. Implementing competency-based training supported by proper resources not only produces a competitive workforce who are globally competent with high chances of getting decently paid jobs, but also encourages foreign direct investment with the inflow of technology and capital necessary to boost economic growth.

As the population grows and shrinking job opportunities in the public sector, the number of self-employed individuals is on the rise. Strong TVET systems, therefore, are expected to prepare adequately those who are going to self-employment, hence boosting the growth of small and medium enterprises. It has been shown that low unemployment rates have been discovered among the youth population with strong TVET policies in nations such as Germany and Austria where TVET programs are embedded with other programs to promote self-employment and apprenticeship.  In France, the government has not only continual vocational education that includes programs for individuals interested in small business enterprises and self-employment but is also aimed at minimizing taxes and financial costs for small businesses and self-employed individuals.

In countries that face unemployment problems, TVET programs included in national strategic plans can foster self-employment for economic growth. To promote self-employment, entrepreneurship courses are very critical as they not only prepare individuals for self-employment but also ensure the sustainability of new enterprises. TVET helps in promoting self-employment through designing courses that match the industry and trainees’ needs hence assisting the graduates to venture into their own businesses.

The author is the Director General TVETA

E-mail: langat.langat@tveta.go.ke