JOB MARKET

Kenya further heighten plan to certify juakali artisans

Report shows only 18% of workers in the construction sector have gone through formal training

In Summary
  • At least 83.4% of total employment and contributes upwards an approximate of 30 per cent to the country’s GDP.
  • Other countries that have a robust RPL are the USA, Canada and Australia.
George Onyango with fellow jua kali artisans at his Kamukunji workshop, Nairobi /JACK OWUOR
George Onyango with fellow jua kali artisans at his Kamukunji workshop, Nairobi /JACK OWUOR

Skilled artisans with no formal education could soon receive internationally recognised certificates to work anywhere in the world. 

This is part of the recently launched Recognition of Prior Learning(RPL) policy that seeks to increase employability and promote human resource export.

The policy established under the Kenya National Qualifications Authority(KNQA) in April last year targets over 2,000 informal workers in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

The sensitisation was organised by Toolkit iSkills(TTI) in conjunction with other stakeholders mandated to recognise and support certification of skills and competencies.

These include prior learning and previous experience irrespective of the learning settings or county in which the skills were acquired.

TTI also works with other players such as Habitat for Humanity and government agencies among them the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) to provide linkages to industries as well as mentorship for entrepreneurship.

This non-certified workers are first practically examined in their area of specialty and their levels graded into three, level one to three based on the set criteria for each by the RPL policy guidelines.

In cases where the workers are found in miss of some skill requirement, they are taken into complete instruction-like training to assure competency.

These informal workers will be upscaled to a field where they can get better pay, apply for new jobs with their certificates and even register businesses that require professional certificates.

Specifically in the construction sector, this policy means construction workers could get certified by the government and access National Construction Authority licenses.

The RPL process is also expected to promote social inclusion and equity for disadvantaged groups, for instance early school leavers and retrenched workers.

It is also expected to encourage lifelong learning in order to create a competent and adaptable work force that can address skills shortages. At the same time, to those who may not have had the opportunity to pursue tertiary education.

TTI Founder Jane Muigai says that large number of youths in the country are disadvantaged when it comes to getting decent jobs, and accessing further education due to lack of appropriate qualifications.

“This is a sad reality because even though these individuals may have some skills, they find themselves locked out of the opportunities that emerge,” Muigai said.

Study by the National Construction Authority(NCA) shows that only 18 per cent of workers in the construction sector have gone through formal training while 82 per cent of the workers base their working on what they see posing the need for certification.

The study further noted that 97 per cent of workers in the sector are male, calling for women inclusion to address the push for gender equality in the countryKenya’s economy is largely driven by the informal sector.

Statistics show that the informal sector captures 83.4 per cent of total employment and contributes upwards an approximate of 30 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

From the above, it is evident that the informal sector employs an overwhelming portion of the Kenyan citizenry and contributes a substantial portion of GDP.

The Vice President of Africa - Habitat for Humanity International, Maurice Mokoloo backed the initiative by saying that the policy will play a critical role in promoting access to decent and safe housing for allKenyans.

Other countries that have a robust RPL are the USA, Canada and Australia.

In Africa, countries likeMauritius and South Africa use the platform for recognition, certification and progression to higher education.

South Africa has over five million workers under RPL and is is being implemented in over 20 sectors and at all levels of qualifications.

Tanzania has over 600,00 RPL certified workers and the initiative is used used as means of identifying skills gaps and hence determining workers’ training needs.

Already,there are ongoing talks between Kenya and seven other countries which form the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD.)

The countries are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda.

According to KNQA director general John Mukhwana, the regional framework will be a great advantage to member states. He said that lack of it causes a toll on professional exposure to other countries.

“In some of these countries, it will take you up to six months for them to figure out what your qualification is,” he said.

All the other seven countries are yet to implement a qualifications regulator apart from Kenya.

Ethiopia is in the process of installing a qualifications authority in the country.

Even so, the plan has been viciously fought, with the Parliamentary Public Investment Committee in May saying the agency risks trespassing.

The concern is that there are certain issues that KNQA is doing which are the mandates of the Commission of University Education, TVETA, and KNEC.