What are some of the key milestones the TVET sector has achieved in the recent past? What are the challenges and the prospects? Find all these the interview below by TVET Authority DG/CEO Dr Kipkirui Langat, which is also appearing in today’s Daily Nation 28th March 2019.

The government has marked the TVET sector to be one of the key enablers of the country’s economic growth as well as the key driving force in addressing the growing youth unemployment and entrepreneurship. In the recent past the government has launched several reforms   accompanied by the establishment of new government agencies responsible for the coordination and regulation of TVET as well of establishment of systems.

Our reporter spoke to the Director General of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority Director (TVETA) Dr Kipkirui Langat to find out some of the milestones and challenges the sector has recorded in the last five years since establishment of the TVET Act 2013, which set out the reform agenda in the sector.

Question: There has been a chain of reforms in the TVET sector in the past few years. What can you say are the major milestones so far?

Dr Kipkirui Langat: As you have correctly noted, we have had quite an evolutionary regime in our TVET sector in the recent past. One of the biggest milestones has been the realization of the reform agenda that started with the enacted of the TVET Act of 2013 and other supportive legislations that have aligned the TVET sector to the constitution and country’s development plans like Vision 2030 and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Act also created several agencies to provide leadership and steer the TVET agenda in line with the government strategic thinking. This includes the TVET Authority, which is mandated to regulate and coordinate TVET sector in Kenya. The others are TVET Curriculum Development Assessment and Certification Council (CDACC) which is mandated to design and develop the TVET curriculum, assessment of competence and certification in TVET; the Kenya National Qualification Authority (KNQA) set up to streamline national qualifications in the country and the TVET Funding Board, which is mandated to mobilise resources for training in TVET.

This is in addition to the establishment of the State Department for Vocational and Technical Training in 2015 to oversight the sector and provide leadership in policy formulation and implementation and the State Department of Post Training and Skills Development in 2018.

The government’s launch of the new Competence Based Curriculum in Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institutions (TVETs) has also aligned training to labour market needs.

The government’s realization that funding is one of the major hindrances to enrolments in TVET training institutions let to the roll out the provision of capitation to all students who enroll in National Polytechnics and Technical Training Institutes through the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS and loans through Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to pursue their studies. Equally, the government has also equipped and refurbished existing vocational institutions and is on course to construct new ones in every constituency.

Question: Despite the reforms, it has not been a smooth ride. What are some of the challenges that agencies like TVETA have been contending with?

 Dr Kipkirui Langat: The Kenyan TVET operates in a unique and challenging environment characterized by complex governance structures, legal regimes, and varied stakeholder interests. Currently, TVET is being implemented through 116 institutions in the Ministry of Education, 130 institutions in other line ministries, over 800 vocational training centres managed by County Governments, and over 700 private institutions countrywide. Others associated stakeholders include professional bodies, industry, and universities. Within these institutions, TVET programmes are being implemented through formal, non-formal or informal modes of training within the framework of lifelong learning. It was in this complex TVET landscapes that TVET Authority was created and given the mandate of regulating and coordinating the sector. To achieve this requires us to understand different legal interpretations as well as the guiding principles and the philosophy behind such laws. But fundamentally, our guiding pillar is grounded on the interpretation based on the overall public good and our Constitution as the basis and reference point. We also undertake a fair amount of consultations to guide decisions in the sector.

Question: Quality is one of the challenges that has bedeviled this sector in the past. How is TVETA ensuring that training institutions are adhering to the highest standards?

Dr Kipkirui Langat: Quality in complex systems like TVET stems from the way in which the product/service takes shape as it moves through this system. Indeed, quality assurance is one of the main functions of TVETA. We have put in place processes and procedures to ensure that qualifications, assessment and programme delivery meet set criteria and standards as per the dictates of the TVET Act. This comprises of the processes of ensuring that specified standards and requirements for TVET provision, learning, TVET management, accreditation, assessment and the recording of achievements are met. To ensure that TVET reforms are realised, TVETA has developed quality assurance and quality management system manuals to guide the implementation of TVET quality assurance in Kenya.

Question: Despite the reforms and quality programmes, we still have a disconnect between the TVET graduates and demands of the job market. Why is this so?

 Dr Kipkirui: First, you need to realise that the government has put in place some of these reforms in the last few years. The various agencies operating in the TVET ecosystem have just started putting in place some of the quality systems and programmes to ensure the realisation of the Competence Based Education and Training (CBET) curriculum. So, the fruits of these reforms and the new systems won’t be realised immediately but gradually and with time we will eventually meet our objectives. The good thing is that we set the foundation and it is systems go. But more importantly as TVETA we have a responsibility to monitor the viability of the skills needed in the labour market so as address the disconnect between learners and employers, which in the past has been based on supply-driven programs. The government has also set in motion through the Ministry of Labour processes to evaluate the current jobs, the jobs that are likely to be created in the future, and how we can train people in line with the country`s skills demand. As a government we are also looking at global trends, especially job disruption because of technology. This is important because if you take the example of the past analogue landline phone booths through which several skilled professionals and technicians were trained and hired, but who late found themselves redundant at the advent of mobile technology. However, when such happens, those affected can move along their own skill set. While professionals need to constantly monitor the evolution of their professions, training institutions should monitor the viability of skills and determine how long they will be in the market. This also goes in to the introduction of robotics in the manufacturing sector. While the evolution of robotics could take a while before making visible impact, professionals and training institutions need to prepare in advance.

Question: How are these quality systems likely going to shape the job market?

 Dr Kipkirui Langat: As I have said above, the reforms and partnerships with other government agencies like the Ministry of Labour, which is responsible for the development of Kenya national occupation classification standards will bring forth a framework to determine the skills at organisational level, and understanding skills needs at the workplace. Secondly determining skills at sectoral level of occupations in high demand and priority occupations across all the sectors. Together with the new competency-based training will allow our system produce manpower with highly developed skills that will lead to improved productivity, reduced errors in the workplace and improved the quality of product or service delivered to the employers. This will have a spiral effect in the job market and the entire economy.

Question: The TVET sector looks like the new baby in the government development focus. What are the growth prospects of this sector?

The TVET will be the biggest game changer in country’s economic growth, especially is addressing unemployment in the country through the provision of knowledge, skills and innovation at various levels.

The government’s Big Four agenda also means that the bulky of human resource that will drive the Housing, Manufacturing, Universal Health and Food Security and by extension Vision 2030 will be from TVET training. The country needs an enrollment of at least 10 per cent of the population, which is an enrollment of about 5 million students in the next five years down from the current about 0.3 per cent or 300,000 students to achieve its development agenda.

The growth prospects are huge, especially now that the government’s policy of 100 per cent transition in basic education. What this means is that at the end of Form Four majority of the school leavers will be absorbed into the TVET sector while a small percentage are admitted to university.

We are also focusing our youths to get opportunities in the region and African continent – being the continent growth posting the remaining 30 per cent unexploited natural resources in the world.