28 February 2013

Consultation With Stakeholders From 11 African Countries Confirm Need for Technical and Vocational Skills Development and Business Incubators

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The African Development Bank consulted Governments, development partners, the private sector, civil society, youth, and educational and training institutions on technical vocational skills development in Kampala, Uganda, from February 25-27, 2013.

The Bank commissioned a comprehensive review and assessment of technical and vocational skills development (TVSD) in Africa to generate reliable, evidence-based knowledge of current policies, best practices and dynamics of TVSD in Africa. It will also generate knowledge for the Bank and other development partners to improve the design of future TVSD projects. The study was commissioned by the Division of Education, Science and Technology (OSHD.2) of the Bank's Human Development Department.

To validate the findings of the study, share experience with practitioners in the TVSD sector, and support the design of new projects in TVSD, a validation and experience-sharing workshop gathering 55 participants from 11 countries was held in Kampala, Uganda. The workshop brought together representatives from six countries where field visits where undertaken in the course of the study (Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda), representatives from some current TVSD projects in seven countries (Botswana, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, and Nigeria), representatives from beneficiary institutions, civil society, youth, private sector and media.

The workshop was opened by Charles Bakabulindi, State Minister of Sports, Ministry of Education and Sports in Uganda, in the presence Jason Mochache, Acting Resident Representative, Uganda Field Office, and Boukary Savadogo, Manager, OSHD.2.

During the opening session, the Bank presented its draft Human Capital Development Strategy and the New Education Model for Africa (NEMA), which were strongly endorsed by the participants. The workshop confirmed the importance of TVSD as a response to the youth unemployment crisis which affects virtually all African countries.

Participants acknowledged that TVSD is often seen by policymakers and the general population as an education of last resort, compared to general secondary education. Furthermore, the low decision-making power of TVSD institutions, the mismatch between the skills provided and the skills demanded by the labour market, the insufficient funding provided to TVSD, the low female participation and the absence of data were discussed. Beneficiary institutions were grateful for the support received by the Bank and confirmed budget shortages, the need for business incubators and greater autonomy.

According to the youth, the Bank should support efforts aiming at a curriculum which meets the needs of the labour market and at an enabling environment which allows young entrepreneurs to strive. Project managers of current TVSD projects recommended to the Bank to provide training on procurement and financial management for staff of the project implementing unit, improve communication and reduce the time needed for no objections.

Overall, participants confirmed that TVSD is getting the attention it merits and the fight against youth unemployment. However, increased attention towards TVSD has to go hand-in-hand with the development of an enabling environment which allows businesses to play its crucial role towards inclusive growth.

Events like this workshop enable a mind-set change on the importance of TVSD among policymakers, stakeholders and the general public at large; disseminate knowledge about TVSD to stakeholders on the continent; and create a much-needed network. It is envisaged to summarize the findings of the workshop alongside the findings of the study in a practical guidebook, which can be used by practitioners and policymakers in the TVSD sector. Participants were eager to support the Bank on this endeavour.

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