Ethiopia: TVETs Producing Low Quality Workforce - Study Finds

opinion

Low-quality training scheme and supply-driven education system is producing incompetent graduates and unfit workforce, a new study conducted by the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA) revealed.

The Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA), in cooperation with the Federal TVET Agency, organized a conference on the participation of the private sector in absorbing graduates of TVETs and challenges faced by businesses while hiring TVET graduates.

ECCSA presented its findings during the conference, highlighting the adverse impacts of the existing TVET policy, which is criticized for being supply-driven and producing unskilled and unqualified graduates for the private sector.

Ethiopia currently has more than 1,500 technical and vocational education institutes. About 45 percent of the TVETs are owned by the public, while the rest are under the ownership of the private sector, according to the study, which has taken 100 private industries and other businesses engaged in manufacturing and service sectors as a sample.

Even though the number of TVETs has increased by more than three folds in the last decade, little has been done to produce graduates with a mastery of skills, the study claims.

Inability to regularly market labor assessment, failure to conduct tracer study, weak private sector representation in TVET policy development or leadership, and the absence of automated labor market information systems, have contributed to institutions sticking with the supply-driven training scheme, said Helen Retta, ECCSA's Research and Advocacy Senior Expert, while presenting the findings.

The study also showed that there is a mismatch between the skills acquired by the graduates and what is demanded by the private sector, leading to an increase in structural unemployment.

"Most of the graduates specialize in textile, leather and garment sectors, while there is shortage of skilled manpower in chemical, steel industry and food technology sub-sectors," said Helen.

"While there is still a huge demand in these specific and other sectors, manufacturing and service sectors soaked up 18 and 28 percent of TVET graduates, respectively," the study states. Even more, the lion's share of the workforce in the two sectors were found to be uncertified by higher education institutions, including TVETs.

"About 67 percent of the employees of manufacturing and service providing companies completed neither TVET nor higher education programs," the study added.

Similarly, the gap in instructors' competency and low payment, inadequate supply of teaching and training materials, gap in leadership skill as leaders are in most cases politically assigned, contributes to the low quality of education provided by TVETs.

Manufacturing industries have also raised "skills" as an issue related to the practical use of machines and equipment, basic equipment maintenance, dealing with ICT, use of written instructions and work guidelines, assembling and disassembling pieces of equipment among other problems.

KedjaUmer, representing Yekatit paper works during the conference, lamented TVET graduates for their skill gap in operating certain types of machinery. She also criticized the unresponsiveness of TVET institutions while companies request for further collaboration.

Speaking at the event, ECCSA's President, Melaku Azezew called on the Agency to establish a platform that could pave the way for strengthened cooperation between business industries and TVET institutions to alleviate challenges faced by the private sector because of skill gaps and avoid structural unemployment.

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