The National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) has been challenged to work with other stakeholders and harmonise training modules and curricula in Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) towards coping with fast-evolving technologies and ending a mismatch of skills and industry needs.
Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said Kenya will only achieve new industrialized status by 2020 if relevant skills are imparted in youth by Technical Vocational Educational Training Institutions (TVETs).
The CS noted that regular TVET curriculum audits that should focus on all sectors, including agriculture, tourism, the blue economy and health and manufacturing will also ensure that more youth acquire skills that will propel them to self-employment.
He indicated that NITA should team up with industry players and come up with guidelines that will inform the development of standards and curricula that are relevant to industry requirements for ensuring demand-driven training.
“There should be a major shift in the way youths are trained and examined as it is not meant to create winners and losers or failures, but to show what areas individual trainees are competent in as they make their best contribution in their areas of specialization,” he stated.
Such a shift, Mr Chelugui observed, can only achieve a long-lasting impact if the process of designing syllabi and examinations is participatory -bringing together the training and examining institutions and stakeholders in the job market so that they can understand each other’s needs, expectations and obligations.
And with the disruptions caused by unforeseen developments like the Covid-19 pandemic, such collaborations he said should make the institutions more dynamic and responsive.
He spoke at the Kenya Industrial Training Institute (KITI) in Nakuru when he inaugurated Trade Tests for artisans in various specialities being conducted by NITA targeting 36,635 candidates. 32,527 candidates will be assessed for grade3, a further 1210 candidates in grade 2 and 237 for grade one. A further 661 will be tested in proficiency trades.
The event was graced by NITA Board Chairman Dr Kamau Gachigi, NITA Director-General Mr Stephen Ogenge, Director KITI Ms Peris Adema and Nakuru East Deputy County Commissioner Mr Eric Wanyonyi.
Mr Chelugui noted that the future of Tvet in the country was promising as the sector has embarked on various reforms, among them the establishment of the new Competence-Based Education and Training (CBET).
The CS added “The curriculum is developed to respond to current labour market demands and quick evolution of technology to solve the issue of unemployment in the country. The government started by building the capacity of tutors at the Kenya Technical Trainers College (KTTC) to the CBET so that they can be well equipped to roll out a massive pre-service and in-serving training programme for all trainers,”
TVET programmes, he pointed out, should also incorporate Whole Youth Development skills such as entrepreneurship, communication skills, problem-solving, relational skills and time management.
“Without this, some evidence shows that these factors can impede the development of essential soft skills among Kenyan youth, inhibiting their success in the job market,”
Mr Ogenge said NITA was testing the various skills in industries, Universities or TVET institutions that have necessary machinery, equipment, personnel and expertise spread across the country. She stated the candidates are assessed as either ‘competent’ or ‘incompetent’ and that there is grading.
He revealed that there was a growing shortage of technicians and artisans in the country and noted that in order to achieve the Kenya Vision 2030, the country needs 90,000 technicians and over 400,000 artisans to plug in the current shortage.
He noted that the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) was now recognizing certificates issued to informally trained artisans and professionals who pass practical tests conducted by various authorities.
Under the new arrangement, the Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examination Board (KASNEB), Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) and Curriculum Development, Assessment and Certification Council (CDACC) will issue academic certificates based on practical performance as opposed to written examinations.
“This effectively means that a jua kali trained, tailor, carpenter, mechanic, sculptor or a plumber who has never sat in a formal classroom or Technical Educational and Vocational Training Institutes (TVETS) may be issued with a recognized certificate just as his counterparts who have undergone years of formal training,” explained NITA Director-General.
This is however subject to the condition that one must practically demonstrate that he or she possesses the requisite skills before a relevant examination body.
Mr Ogenge emphasised that skills imparted by Technical Vocational Educational Training Institutions (TVETs) will be critical in propelling Kenya to new industrialised status by 2030 and creating opportunities for self-employment.
Ms Adema said KITI was working on a policy shift where artisans will be given an opportunity to showcase practical capabilities in their respective areas of expertise before being issued with certificates that will enable them to seek employment in both formal and informal sectors where their skills are required.
“We need to bring this skilled pool of informally and non-formally trained manpower to the mainstream of our development. Most of these skilled people have never been to school but their competencies are running this country” stated the Director
She said the world over the labour market was transiting from theoretical expertise to practical-based skills, adding that a growing number of Kenyans with good academic qualifications were unemployed because of a mismatch of skills and career choices.