By Dr Kipkirui Langat

The Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA) has taken huge strides in positioning itself to anchor and support the manufacturing sector, one of the government’s Big Four agenda which seeks to increase manufacturing contribution to GDP from the current 9.2 % to 20% by 2022.

The realization of the objectives of the manufacturing sector has indeed increased the demands for skills in various sectors of our economy. This includes in the rapidly expanding construction industry, agro-processing, the textile industry, mining and gas, iron and steel, the emerging blue economy, ICT, fish processing and may more others. The provision of the skills needed in these sectors by TVET training institutions will go a long way in not only boosting the manufacturing sector but also providing employment opportunities to a critical mass of our young people.

Just after the establishment of the Agenda Four blueprint, TVETA moved quickly and partnered with other government agencies in line ministries and other stakeholders to develop Competence Based Education and Training (CBET) system that has integrated work learning, trainer development and a strong regulatory framework.

The need for the CBET curriculum was projected to allow for flexibility and responsiveness to the changing needs of the labour market by allowing graduates to undertake structured and supervised practical activities in industry environment. This is expected to strengthen the link between skills learnt and the needs of the labour market.

Currently we have already developed Competence Based Training and Assessment (CBTA) standards and guidelines that will guide proper quality assurance in the sector so that it can reflect the objectives and goals of the national TVET strategy, which demands that all curricula should be informed by labour market information.

These standards and guidelines will allow the TVET sector in Kenya to seamlessly transit the current education and training system into the CBET system so as to cement the improvement of quality, relevance, and efficiency of training in the sector as well as identify new requirements for training.

A successful CBET system requires efficiency in data collection to facilitate a more flexible and responsive training program to the dynamic labour market demand. This gives meaning to realistic curricula development that reflects workplace needs and demonstrates competence as required in the job market.

One of the hallmarks of the new framework is that it allows training institutions to also establish their own mechanisms and source for data on skills demand, and augment the success of training by forming a proper relationship with industry.

Under the new system, the TVET sector will mainly focus on the practical delivery system that will have a correlation with various apprenticeship and internship programs already undertaken by the government and the industry.

Apprenticeship is the process of transmitting knowledge and skills in the context of the real world of work. It involves a formal agreement covering a definite period, which binds the employer to provide training in return for the work of the apprentice. Internship on the other hand, provides a trainee with an opportunity in industry to blend theory and practice, representing an important step forward in making the TVET system more relevant.

Both apprenticeship and internship will help the trainee to apply the concepts learned in class through practice on the actual job to enhance their skills for employment. Both apprenticeship and internship will also require companies and TVET institutions to share the responsibility of providing the trainee with the best possible job qualifications and the essentials through practical training by securing an adequate level of specific, general, and occupation related competency.

The guiding principle is that as all parties involved will gain immediate and long-lasting benefit for the national TVET strategy. The capacity for apprenticeship and internship in Kenya can be enhanced by integrating learning in all the flagships projects. This approach has been used successfully in South Africa where all government flagship projects integrate skills development and technology transfer. The current infrastructure and housing projects in Kenya provide great potential for apprenticeship and internship that will benefit thousands of trainees.

For this outcome based TVET system to bear fruit there is need for education providers to have in their ranks highly competent and motivated staff because without a pool of relevant TVET instructors/trainers, the implementation of the national TVET strategy may not be feasible.

TVETA has started registering and licensing TVET trainers who have been trained to respond to the needs of the new Competence Based Education and Training. The government is also working on systems on how to upgrade through in-service the current TVET instructors to the required standards.

To this effect, TVETA with the help of development partners has developed TVET trainers’ qualification framework which will inform the development of new trainers and upgrade the skills of existing trainers.

The professional and pedagogical competence of the instructors is crucial to the successful implementation of any TVET strategy. Therefore, there is need to make conscious efforts, to train and retain qualified technical instructors in the system.

TVETA has committed itself to facilitate the development of human resource capacity by strengthening quality assurance of training and provision of a platform for industry linked training so as to help the government realize the objectives and aspiration of the country’s various development agenda like the Big Four Agenda.

The author is the Director general/ CEO, TVET Authority