By Claire Wanja
A new set of building and construction Occupational Standards has been unveiled and is expected to significantly improve the quality of training among artisans in the sector as players evaluate modalities of bridging the skills gap in the market.
The Occupational Standards being the foundation for training artisans have been designed to facilitate collaboration between the industry and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutions so as to match the skills of trained artisans to the market demands.
The Occupational Standards for the Building and Construction Industry have been developed in consultation with both public and private sector players including the National Construction Authority (NCA).
HF Foundation, the social investment arm of HF Group, steered the process of developing the new guideline and handed them over to the Curriculum Development Accreditation and Certification Council (CDACC) Monday.
CDACC is expected to develop these into training content and material for TVET institutions as well as assessment of practicing artisans.
Winnie Imanyara, Executive Director HF Foundation said if adopted, the Occupational Standards would entrench Competency Based Education and Training (CBET) among TVET institutions. This would in turn impart employable skills among the youth that are trained in these institutions.
“Without job-related skills, young people cannot benefit from employment opportunities that offer a decent income. The present skills development system in Kenya follows a curriculum-based, time-bound approach rather than demand-driven approach,” she said when she handed over the guidelines to CDACC.
“If Kenya fully adopts CBET, the country will succeed in providing gainful employment to its growing workforce and ensuring that youth are successfully integrated into the economy. This will open the pathway to a demographic dividend that will improve competitiveness, raise household incomes, reduce poverty and create a virtuous cycle of investment and growth,” she said.
She added that failure to achieve such an integration would raise the possibility of social disruption and an economy that is unable to attract industries that are globally competitive.
The Occupational Standards in the building and construction sector are the first in Kenya, which has for years grappled with an inadequate skills set among artisans. The African Development Bank estimates that 75 per cent of artisans are not formally or adequately trained, which results in a major skills gap. Currently, artisans are largely trained on the job, a process that fails to capture many basic construction requirements as well as hindering them from accessing higher paying jobs.
The Occupational Standards are also in line with HF Foundation’s vision of empowering artisans. The Foundation is currently implementing the “Army of one million artisans” initiative that is geared at facilitating and catalyzing industry-relevant and sustainable practical skills required by the building and construction industry.
Ms Imanyara also noted that recent developments in the construction industry were pointers that CBET is one of the keys to unlocking the quality and safety in construction works in Kenya. Adoption of CBET in Kenya will help meet the needs of the industry and expose trainees to the best global and industry practice.
“There is need to initiate and mainstream competence based training to enable TVET graduates acquire skills, knowledge and right attitudes to perform jobs to the required standard in collaboration with industry,” she said.