Educating and training Africa’s large youth population through TVET – the master key

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Recent statistics reveal 40% of Africans are under the age of 15, compared to the world average of 25%… which lays down the challenge to ensure the continent’s youth population get the skills required to bring about economic advantage and employment.

According to a recent article, a balance is needed between higher education and vocational training in Africa to face the task of upskilling an enormous youth population.youth-of-south-africa-happy-faces-725x475

Governments and international institutions are paying increasing attention to Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET).  It is one of eight priority areas in the African Union’s Second Decade of Education (2006-2015).

The demand is enormous, with three out of five unemployed in sub-Saharan Africa being young people, surviving mostly in the informal economy.

South Africa to expand technical colleges

South Africa’s Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has announced a range of measures to help transform South Africa’s post-school system – including the extension of technical and vocational colleges and establishing a new category of “community colleges”.

The colleges will be a clustering of adult learning centres, with the government strengthening their infrastructure, staffing and programmes.

South Africa’s public adult learning centres currently cater for approximately 300,000 individuals which, according to Nzimande, is inadequate.

The South African government will be building more technical and vocational education training colleges, directing more money to elevate the stature and programme offerings.

Improving universities and infrastructure, and increasing the number of teachers are also at the forefront of discussion in South Africa.

South Africa’s Big Five: Bold Priorities for Inclusive Growth, outlines economic growth of R1trillion (Rand) and the creation of 3.4 million jobs by 2030.

It highlights the need to revisit the relationships between labour, business and the government and to overhaul how South Africa educates and trains its workforce.

The report recommends numerous ways to achieve this, including promoting alternative education, career paths and vocational training along with a deeper involvement by industry to identify critical training and occupational needs and programmes to strengthen young people’s readiness for work.

But it’s not just South Africa working towards up skilling their youth.

Dual country agreement to promote TVET training

Botswana has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Zimbabwe to promote effective teaching in their respective Vocational and Technical colleges.

This MOU is meant to facilitate Zimbabwean TVET personnel to be seconded for a fixed term to Botswana in specific TVET fields.  In addition, the agreement will allow Botswana personnel to be trained at recognised TVET training institutions in Zimbabwe.

This is positive news for both countries, particularly for Zimbabwe.  Unemployment in Zimbabwe currently stands at 70%, representing a huge loss of skills.  A recent report found that the less educated workforce makes up 42% of the youth workforce – a troubling proportion.

Worryingly, the figure of youth with less than primary school education is also growing, reaching a rate of 5% per year.  This means youth simply aren’t gaining the high-demand skill sets such as soft skills required for achieving and sustaining employment.

The workforce landscape has evolved significantly over the last few decades. Workforce development and planning tools can help overcome this issue, alongside TVET training.

If you’re in need of TVET expertise, youth engagement and workforce development strategies for your country or region, please contact Wendy via

November 2015

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