TVET council re-established to drive graduate employability
Kenya’s Cabinet has re-established the TVET Curriculum Development Assessment and Certification Council (CDACC) which had been abolished two years ago.
The council is mandated to undertake the design and development of curricula for the training institutions’ examination, assessment and competence certification and advise the government on policy interventions.
The decision, said the cabinet, will anchor the development of learner-centred, flexible, demand-driven and industry-led TVET curricula for training institutions.
“This measure secures examination, assessment and competence certification as the lynch-pin for transformation of the education sector,” the cabinet said in a brief issued following an earlier meeting.
The abolition of the council was announced by the country’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta last year (2022).
Kenya’s Principal Secretary to the Department of TVET, Dr Esther Muoria, said polytechnics and TVET institutions needed to bolster their systems for the examining of learners.
“I have directed my officers to develop a database of all industries in the country with which we shall partner in skills delivery,” she said recently.
Catalyst towards addressing youth unemployment
Government officials said there has been a significant increase in enrolment in various TVET institutions countrywide as the government seeks to make the TVET sector a catalyst towards achieving industrialisation and address youth unemployment in the country.
Data by the Kenya Bureau of Statistics showed that enrolment to the institutions increased by 25% last year. The number of students joining technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges hit 296,305 from 217,440 in 2020, the biggest jump ever in the past five years.
Before it was closed down, TVET CDACC had played a significant part in rebranding the TVET sector and creating more awareness of the opportunities within the industry.
“As a way of reducing youth unemployment and assisting in attaining vision 2030, bridging the skills gap between the training institutions and the industry has emerged as a priority area. There is still a massive mismatch between the skills acquired in training institutions and the ones that are demanded in the various industries,” said the council in a recent newsletter.
The council says it has a framework in place whereby the assessment of TVET trainees can be conducted in the industry, and their competence gauged accurately.
This has ensured that the student gets training in an ideal work environment and, consequently, they can adequately perform in a similar environment once pronounced competent after the assessment.
Dissatisfaction with tertiary graduates
A 2022 survey showed that nearly half of Kenyan employers are dissatisfied with the skills level of higher education leavers joining the job market.
This means that, while thousands graduate each year, their qualifications are no guarantee of a job, as employers opt for highly skilled employees who are in over-supply in the market, and shun new graduates.
The findings by market research firm CPS indicate that a majority of employers (60% of those polled) prefer graduates from business and economic studies-related courses and social and behavioural sciences-related courses.
This means those studying sciences and other technical courses have fewer opportunities in a country where youth unemployment is estimated at about 60%.
Additionally, a third of the employers are not satisfied that new graduates hired in the past 12 months meet the skills needs and knowledge expectations of the industry.
The government intends to adopt a National Credit Accumulation and Transfer System that will facilitate movement of students across various certification levels, including TVET colleges and universities. It will harmonise admission requirements, duration of study and learning descriptors of programmes at certificate, diploma and university levels.
Additionally, the government has kicked off talks with the private sector to provide internship and employment opportunities to trainees through a structured mechanism for micro, small and medium enterprises.
The government has said it will give tax rebates to companies that take on interns in a bid to drive up linkages between technical institutions and the private sector. It has also promised the implementation of a labour-market-responsive competency-based education and training curriculum, and well-resourced and trained faculty.
Kenya has been running a series of TVET reforms since 2013 starting with the establishment of the TVET Authority, a regulator; the TVET Funding Board; and the Kenya National Qualifications Authority in 2014.
This was reinforced by the creation of the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training in 2015, and the State Department of Post Training and Skills Development in 2018.