Developing skills that are relevant to the current and future needs of the labour market remains a key policy goal for Kenya. Technical and Vocational Education Trainings (TVETs)and Higher Education (HE) need practical training of their students to ensure they are fit for industry. The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) has taken up the initiative to enhance partnerships between Industry and training institutions by developing Industry- training Partnership Framework. The developed framework was presented to the key stakeholders (TVETs and Industries) during a workshop held on 14th January 2022 at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Nairobi.
One of the key purposes of TVETs is to prepare youth for both formal wage employment in various industries, self-employment, and entrepreneurship. Over the past years, there has less collaboration between industry and TVETs which has caused an increase in unemployment and skills mismatch, underemployment, increase in labour costs linked to resources used at the workplace to re-train graduates. FKE has taken the initiative to provide leadership in bridging this gap.
“We are required to work together, Industry and TVETs to curb the prevailing skills mismatch, unemployment and production of substandard products in the country. FKE has taken initiatives to bring industries and TVETs together. This is the commencement of a long-term engagement that will transform Kenya from being a certificate country into a skills country. This will lead to accelerated development, productivity and job creation for Kenya” said Mr. Stephen Obiro, FKE's Head of Advocacy, Consulting and Partnerships, representing Mrs. Jacqueline Mugo, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, FKE.
To better understand the state of industry linkage with the training institutions, FKE commissioned a consultancy which explored the present status of the industry – training linkages by analysing the access, quality, equity, relevance, and cost-effectiveness of the current industry. TVET collaborations and then developed industry – Training Partnership Framework. The study found out that the main challenges in implementing collaborations and partnerships between TVET institutions and industry fall into three categories which are: -
- Strategy /policy challenges
- Communication challenges
- TVET institution management challenges
During the meeting, it was evident there was overwhelming support for the need of partnership from all the TVET and Industry stakeholders. Stakeholders from each sector had unique challenges which they were able to express in an open discussion session.
Industry/ employers noted that some of the challenges they are facing with students being rolled out from TVETs include minimal exposure to machines; a curriculum that needs regular reviews and changes to address the industry needs; lack of industrial leadership programs in TVETs; lack of adaptation of the curriculum to today’s technology and having to re-train students, which is capital intensive just to mention a few.
TVETs cited challenges such as: lack of a well outlined guidelines on partnership with industries; rejection of students when sent out to industries for attachment; lack of mentorship by those in industry and a lack curriculum relevance due to system rigidity and minimal interaction with industry.
FKE’s main objective in bringing industry and TVETs together, is to institutionalize and strengthen the industry – training partnership for mutual benefit of the partners and the specific objectives which include:
- To reinforce the linkages between the industry/MSMEs and the TVET institutions / Higher education.
- To stipulate the roles and responsibilities of partners.
- To provide an institutionalized platform to support the contribution of the industry to the implementation of the TVET reforms agenda in Kenya.
- To strengthen the participation, coordination, collaboration, cooperation, and synergy between the industry and TVET institutions
- To provide a platform for sharing of lessons and adoption of best practices in implementation of industry training partnership.
- To enhance channels of communication between the TVET institutions and industry.
- To offer guidelines on how a TVET institution can effectively engage with an industry as a partner.
- To offer guidelines on how the industry can effectively contribute to the development of TVET training standards, qualifications, curricula, teaching and learning as well as innovative collaborations in skills development
- To monitor and evaluate the implementation of the industry – training partnership.
Concluding the meeting, each shareholder agreed there was need for this partnership if progress was to be seen. FKE committed to support this partnership through ensuring guidelines are well stipulated and discussed for action. This will be a new dawn for both the industry and TVETs realm for a better Kenya.