Dual TVET approach key to gainful employment

Friday, February 23rd, 2024 10:00 | By
TVET signage. PHOTO/Screengrab

As the dust settles on 2023 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results and students start considering various career pathways, many find themselves at a crossroads, their academic fate sealed by a set of grades.

In an era of dynamic employment landscape, the conversation around post-KCSE choices must extend beyond university gates. The evolving employment landscape demands a fresh perspective, one that champions the pragmatic alternative of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

Back in the day, crossing the threshold into university was a monumental achievement, celebrated with cheer and communal pride. The conventional white-collar jobs that were once the epitome of success no longer hold the same appeal in today’s job market.

Blue-collar jobs, fuelled by technical skills, have taken centre stage, turning the job market into a battlefield of opportunities. Hence, equipping oneself with technical skills becomes a formidable weapon, setting job seekers apart in a fierce struggle against unemployment. This dynamic is prominently observable in sectors like manufacturing.

A recent report by the International Labour Organisation paints a challenging picture of the global employment scenario, with rising unemployment rates and a growing disparity between high and low-income countries.

The report underscores the persistent shortage of skilled labour in sectors such as manufacturing, construction, and ICT, highlighting the urgent need for a paradigm shift in our approach to education. With such revelations, we must rethink our stance on education and explore TVET, more so dual training, a revolutionary approach to vocational education that blends classroom learning with industry experience, equipping students with practical skills and theoretical knowledge. This dual-pronged strategy is a dynamic remedy for the skills gap, a key contributor to escalating unemployment rates.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution emphasises the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills, signalling a shift toward a more technical job market. This is where TVET comes in, as it prepares and equips students with technical skills that are essential and practical in the market.

Let us take the case of the manufacturing sector. Since 2017, KAM has been promoting youth employment through entrepreneurship and skills development. This is through a TVET programme that aims at bridging skills mismatch and gap, prevalent in the industry by enhancing skills development and providing a pool of technically skilled personnel at entry and mid-level.

KAM has successfully linked manufacturers with skilled labour, actively participated in curricula review and development to address the skills mismatch, established learning communities that foster collaboration between training institutions and employers, and consistently advocated for policy changes on the national skills agenda.

In 2019, KAM implemented the pilot phase of the Dual Technical and Vocational Education and Training Programme, a component that significantly expanded the reach and effectiveness of the TVET Programme. Grounded in competence-based curricula, the model strategically aligns the training plans of Technical Training Institutions with dynamic demands of the industry.

The project has shown impressive outcomes, with over 1,500 youths participating in technical skill programmes while 1,260 have successfully transitioned into gainful employment.  The numbers represent not just statistics but transformed lives, demonstrating the tangible success of the Dual TVET Programme.

As the Class of 2023 contemplates its next steps, it is crucial that they remember that success has more than one doorway. Embracing TVET is not just a choice; it is a commitment to a brighter and more promising future, where knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience converge on the path to success.

—The writer is the Chief Executive of KAM

[email protected]

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