Photo: Daniel Osiemo, acting NEPAD Kenya Secretariat Chief Executive Officer (left) and Estherine Fotabong, Director of Programmes (right), NEPAD agency addressing the press during the launch of the Skills Initiative for Africa consultative Workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: Wanzala Justus | IDN-INPS - Photo: 2017

Access of African Youth to Labour Market Receives Boost

By Justus Wanzala

NAIROBI (IDN) – The African Union (AU) in collaboration with the government of Germany has established an initiative to help young Africans acquire practical skills for meeting the needs of labour markets.

The aim is to strengthen their occupational prospects in view of the continent’s unemployment crisis.

Most hit are young people, with around 60 percent of the unemployed under the age of 25. Key players in implementation of the initiative are the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the German government’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, as well as the German KfW Development Bank.  NEPAD is a socio-economic development flagship programme of the AU.

The initiative runs from 2017-2020 and is being piloted in five countries: Kenya, Tunisia, Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon. The five countries have been selected to act as multipliers in their regions and serve as role models.

Vincent Oparah, Programme Officer at NEPAD, told IDN that the initial five countries were selected because they already have technical vocational policies and practices that can be shared with other African countries.

He said that the total amount committed to the initiative is 35 million euros, with each country entitled to access about seven million euros, and projects will be selected after competitive submission of proposals from the different competent entities.

Under various funding windows, large projects will receive three million euros and small projects up to one million euros. Selection of the programmes is influenced by their relevance in addressing common challenges affecting African countries in skills development.

Participants in the launch of the Skills Initiative for Africa-cum-Consultative Workshop held in Nairobi on May 5 noted that countries on the continent lack educational programmes with practical orientation, leading to poor job prospects and contributing to the phenomenon of young people seeking opportunities outside the continent.

Although governments and the private sector recognise the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in enhancing the employability of youth, they face numerous challenges including an inadequate number of qualified teachers, poor and inadequate infrastructure, lack of scholarship opportunities and the unavailability of modern equipment for training.

Noting that there is weak collaboration among countries in enhancing vocational training, participants welcomed the initiative saying that the replication of best practices in other countries will boost vocational training on the continent.

Daniel Osiemo, Acting Chief Executive Officer at the NEPAD Kenya Secretariat, said that despite growing literacy levels in Africa, the continent faces the challenge of inadequate relevant skills and this highlights the need to help organisations with the capacity to develop skills succeed in their mandate.

In a speech read on his behalf by Osiemo, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Devolution and Planning Micah Pkopus Powon said the project has been launched at a time when Kenya, like the rest of Africa, has a huge population of educated youth who lack the right skills for securing employment.

The initiative, he said prioritises occupational prospects for African youth in order to contribute to employment and income opportunities and “will thus play a role in supporting our efforts to create opportunities for our youth.”

Heldagard Lingnau, Head of Development Cooperation at the German embassy in Kenya, said her government runs many regional and global initiatives in the sphere of development, and its current focus in Kenya is on technical and vocational training.

With some one million young Kenyans joining the flooded labour market each year, Lingnau reported that the German government has committed 20 million euros to support the Kenya government’s TVET reform initiative. “The main intention is to support setting up of a network of training institutions and set up a centre of excellence working in collaboration with the private sector,” she explained.

Public-private sector partnership was identified as key to addressing unemployment problems. Lingnau said that ownership of the private sector in TVET reform is crucial “because we are keen in offering industry-oriented technical training.” 

She added that the German government is keen to work with financial institutions to ensure support for giving young people from poor backgrounds access to TVET education.

Estherine Fotabong, Director of Programmes at NEPAD, explained that Kenya was selected as one of the five pioneers because it had shown that it is ready to pilot innovation, adding that “we need to showcase innovation in ICT and agriculture so that youth across the continent can benefit.”

According to Fotabong, the initiative will provide a platform for technology transfer from Germany, through the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), and from other parts of the world such as Asia which have made huge strides in innovation and technical skills development.

Fotabong said NEPAD has also mobilised resources to cater for skills development in the spheres of agriculture, food and nutrition security, regional integration and conservation of the environment.

She noted that Africa will not achieve all its transformational goals without harnessing its demographic dividend, adding that a solution is needed to tackle massive unemployment because it is “disheartening for parents educate their children only for them to end up with no jobs.” 

Calling on all segments of society to work towards creation of employment opportunities for the youth in Africa, the NEPAD official reported that the African Union is putting policies in place aimed at working with member states to ensure skills competence.

Acknowledging that various institutions in member countries have been executing measures to address the unemployment challenge, she said that due to lack synergy not much has been achieved. “There have been efforts to put interventions in place but poor coordination has hampered the attainment of good results. We should share information to succeed in this endeavour.”

In a speech read on her behalf by Meshack Opwora, Deputy Director of TVET, State Department of Technical Training, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Vocational and Technical Training in the Ministry of Education Dinah Mwinzi said human resources are a prerequisite for human economical development and the future of the continent rests on the skills, knowledge and commitment of its youth.

According to Mwinzi, “Kenya is improving infrastructure in TVET training and setting up centres of excellence, linking institutions with industry and reforming curricula” with a view to filling existing skills gaps.

She added that Kenya is improving the quality of training by standardising and integrating ICT in TVET training and “we are also promoting science innovation in our TVET institutions.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 10 May 2017]

Photo: Daniel Osiemo, acting NEPAD Kenya Secretariat Chief Executive Officer (left) and Estherine Fotabong, Director of Programmes (right), NEPAD agency addressing the press during the launch of the Skills Initiative for Africa consultative Workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: Justus Wanzala | IDN-INPS

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate –

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