Kenya has the power to reorient itself towards sustainable development using Technical and Vocational Education and Training as a vehicle for socio-economic and technological development. A review of the current TVET curriculum would ensure the right skills set for economic growth, poverty alleviation, youth and women’s empowerment and social inclusion.
The earmarking of a national skills inventory by the government, backed by an efficient labour market information system, will ensure that skills training are based on the appropriate demand. This way, the informal sector will provide a wide range of employment opportunities in the country.
In the building and construction sector, for instance, an increase in infrastructure projects and also a need for proper housing for the Kenyan mass has created need for expertise in the field which has been flooded by unqualified personnel. This has been manifested through the collapse of various buildings while under construction. The need for qualified personnel was also witnessed by the importation of technical personnel during the construction of large projects like the Thika Superhighway.
The private sector has a huge role to play in the development of skilled labour. The on-going training and mentorship programme by the HF Foundation through the “Army of 1 Million Artisans” is, for example, manifest of how the private sector can play a role in ensuring that technical skills are harnessed. The HF programme seeks to have artisans in the construction field trained, and this will help them access practical internship opportunities. The aim is to ensure we are at per with the global requirements in the sector.
The growing need of linking education to market demand has led to closer collaboration between industry players, training institutions and the government. The notable mismatch between supply and demand for skilled labour has led to widespread underemployment in the informal sector. Through an intensive campaign to improve the technical institutions, the government and private sector can raise the quality of training in technical institutions. This will include ensuring that technical institutions are available in every ward in the country to ensure more people have access to them.
The need to link training to employment is the reason why enterprises should be deeply involved in determining the content of training, so that this becomes more relevant to the workplace. Furthermore, entrepreneurship has been integrated into technical education and training as part of the curriculum to provide trainees with business techniques.
TVET which is demand-driven will ultimately lead to the development of the country and, in the same stride, promote an entrepreneurship culture so as to offer a wide range of employment opportunities to the youth and other members of the society. Sikasa is senior programme manager at HF Foundation