PM Ngirente urges Africa to turn to TVET to bridge the skills gap

PM Ngirente urges Africa to turn to TVET to bridge the skills gap

A severe shortage of skills in key sectors of the economy threatens to erode the gains made by African countries, Prime Minister Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente has said, making the case for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools.

The Prime Minister made the remarks yesterday as he was officiating at the opening ceremony of the week-long meeting of 200 member institutions of the Commonwealth Association of Polytechnics in Africa (CAPA) in Kigali.

He said that construction, energy, water distribution and sanitation as well as large public works were the sectors where the skills void was most rampant.

Trained workers, he said, are also in short supply in the hospitality and agro-processing sectors.

The PM added that the growing problem of youth unemployment in Africa is a major concern for many governments and therefore Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) skills is the solution.

“A big number of young Africans leave the school system every year in search for jobs. These young people should be encouraged to complete their studies so as to be qualified for the labour market and even be able to create their own jobs,” he said.

He said that TVET is one of the most powerful tools to fight poverty.

It does not only provide skills to gain paid employment but also to promote and support creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in order to develop the ability to create jobs and employment opportunities, the Premier said.

TVET skills are one of the drivers for economic transformation, he added, and stressed that this only possible if graduates from these schools are highly skilled and competitive on the labour market.

In its National Strategy for Transformation, Rwanda seeks to increase the number of students attending TVET schools to 60 per cent by 2024 from 31.1 per cent in 2017.

“This is expected to address the challenge of mismatch in the labour market. The implementation of this strategy is ongoing in collaboration with the private sector,” Ngirente said.

Taking advantage of AfCFTA

Ngirente said there was need to educate the youth and encourage them to embrace labour mobility opportunities.  “Therefore African youth should take advantage of the African Continental free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in terms of free movement of labour as an added opportunity for them.”

According to Samuel Mulindwa, the Permanent Secretary at the ministry of education, there is need for serious commitment to invest in TVETs.

“We need to put more investment in the TVET sector in terms of infrastructure and engage more private sectors. We also attract private sector role through subsidies in investment and the students pay 50 per cent of the cost of studies at TVET universities,” he said, adding that 61 per cent of Rwanda’s TVET schools are privately owned.

Studies have found that 75 per cent of TVET graduates get jobs in the first six months after graduation, he disclosed.

“We also encourage more girls to join TVET schools.”

For instance, Mulindwa revealed, 43 per cent of Rwandan students today are female, which has prompted the government to encourage adolescent girls who dropped out of schools, due to early pregnancies, to join TVET schools.

Arshfod Ngugi, Arshfod Ngugi, Regional Coordinator of GIZ’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in Eastern and Southern Africa, said TVET skills are also highly needed in agricultural production and value addition to harvest.

He said TVET skills are needed considering that by 2050; there will be over 440 million of youth and women in need of jobs.

Jahou Faal, the Secretary General of CAPA, said that African should increasing funding to TVET sector.

“We have also to harmonise competent based curricula in our education programmes,” she added.