Harmonised TVET curricula aim to boost youth employment

The government has launched a new set of harmonised competency-based curricula and quality standards which are set to revolutionise the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector and allow graduates to work anywhere in the country and in any industry.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education and the TVET Curriculum Development Assessment and Certification Council – a government agency – unveiled the Competency-Based Education and Training and Assessment Standards and Guidelines. Whereas in the past curricula varied according to the institution and competencies were different, the new system allows the country to harmonise competencies.

Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto said the framework will eradicate moribund courses as colleges focus on skills required to drive the country’s economic agenda as set out in Vision 2030, the blueprint designed to lift Kenya into middle-income industrialised economy status over the next 12 years.

The move is also in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the government’s ‘Big Four’ development agenda aimed at ensuring the country is food secure, provides affordable decent housing, affordable universal health care and supports the manufacturing sector to produce jobs.

TVET investment

Over the past three years, the government has been investing heavily in TVET to secure a critical mass of artisans, craftspeople, technicians and technologists.

“We want to reduce the gap between training and industry and to ensure that we better develop young people into professionals that can meet the growing needs of industry and the economy,” Ruto said in Nairobi during the launch. “We must respond to the stark truth of our socio-economic time: the need for more competency in our workforce.”

Kenya hopes to grow its manufacturing contribution to GDP over the next five years from 9% to 15%, build a million new affordable housing units using innovative technology, and nurture about 1,000 new small businesses in the agri-processing space every year.

The competitiveness of these industries will depend on their efficiency and their ability to source competent labour in the market. Kenya has over 1 million young people leaving primary and secondary education every year.

In addition to the curricular review, Kenya has embarked on other sectoral reforms which include provision of more training spaces, modern and state of the art training equipment and capacity building of TVET trainers.

The government has set up oversight and regulatory agencies which include the TVET Authority to accredit institutions and assure quality, and the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) to develop and implement the Kenya Qualifications Framework to assess foreign certificates and qualifications.

It is envisioned that the provision of relevant TVET skills to the increasing number of youth will prepare them for self-employment arising from opportunities in the growing infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.

Harmonised framework

The new curriculum puts special emphasis on developing a critical mass of skills in oil pipeline operations, horticultural production, machinery operation and electrical installation.

A total of 88 occupational standards have been developed which have also influenced the respective competency-based curricula. The KNQA will be expected to recognise these competency-based modules as national qualifications.

Students will now be tested according to a harmonised framework which means they can work anywhere in the country or in any industry, a departure from the past when they relied on varying standards.

“These occupational standards will be reviewed to ensure they are relevant as some competences become obsolete and technological practices change in line with technical innovation,” said Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed.

Skills mismatch

The standards have been developed in conjunction with private sector players to address the skills mismatch about which employers have long complained.

The government has in return asked private sector employers to enhance remuneration for the technical workers to attract more youth.

As part of the reforms, the government announced it has further reduced the annual cost of technical training from US$920 to US$564 per student.

For this financial year which started in July, the National Treasury allocated US$160 million for technical institutions. The funding, which is over 30% higher than the past year, is expected to aid the recruitment of an additional 2,000 technical training instructors and capitation grants for students. It is projected that the measures will help to grow 10-fold the enrolment in TVET institutions, currently at 330,180 students.