The need to develop technical and vocational skills in Africa

The term technical and vocational skills development follows the 1997 UNESCO International Standard Definition of Education, which is education and training “to acquire the practical skills, know-how and understanding necessary for employment in a profession, trade or group of trades or trades”. In Africa there are approximately 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 who are required to be trained to develop skills so that they are either employable or can start their own businesses.

In order to train and modernize their pool of technical manpower for rapid industrialization and national development, African countries need to adopt technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Skills shortages are a priority that African leadership in various sectors will need to urgently address, otherwise the country will be forced to ease restrictions on foreign workers until they can meet human resource requirements. Education and skills can open doors to economically and socially rewarding jobs and can seek the growth of informal, small-scale enterprises. Therefore, the development of job-related skills should be part of Africa’s human resource and poverty reduction strategies.

Characteristics of technical and vocational skills development systems:

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) delivery systems are in place to train the skilled and effective entrepreneurs Africa needs to create wealth and, in turn, out of poverty. It can respond, not only to the requirements of different types of industries, but also to meet the needs of learners from different segments of society, preparing them for meaningful and supportive lives while offering them employment opportunities.

The impact of technical and vocational training in Africa at the present time:

With the turn of the century, there is a new awareness of the analytical role that TVET plays in economic growth and national development by policy makers in many African countries and within the international contributing community. In the Poverty Reduction Strategy Document, Cameroon intends, for example, to develop vocational and vocational training to strengthen unions in the labor market; Côte d’Ivoire talks about promoting vocational training. Ghana linked vocational education and training, youth education, technical skills development and business management; Lesotho and Rwanda focus on linking technical and vocational education and training to business, while Malawi stresses the need to promote self-employment through skills development. Other countries that have prioritized TVET initiatives in national development policy documents include Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia. Below is a graph showing the decrease in the unemployment rate from January 2014 to January 2015 from data collected by the Federal Reserve Bank.

Rwanda’s Minister of Education in Africa, Masafiri, stated that expanding training to develop technical and vocational skills will provide innovative solutions to the various challenges in the country which is one of its most important requirements. The growing number of young people in Africa comes with high energy, creativity and talents and it is time to make use of them by developing their technical and professional skills.

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