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Employment for the Youth: Technical and Vocational Training and Education

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Youth unemployment is an issue of concern to societies world over. Consequently, nations have institutionalized policies to not only address to the training of the youth but also to improve their employability. There is strong movement in the globe to institute technical and vocational training due to the platform they offer towards employment for the youth.

UNESCO (2001) describes Technical and Vocational Training and Education (TVET) as a means of preparing for occupational fields and for effective participation in the world of work, an aspect of lifelong learning and a preparation for responsible citizenship, an instrument for promoting environmentally sound sustainable development and a method of facilitating poverty alleviation. All over the world, TVET is recognized as key to socio-economic development and policies were developed to enhance it. For example, the European Commission developed a common strategy for “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” of TVET aiming “to equip young learners with skills directly relevant to evolving labor market”. Although European Commission has developed general guidelines on Technical and Vocational Education and Training, each country in Europe has its peculiar practices aiming at ensuring good organization and effectiveness of TVET. For example, in Germany, the policy insists on the involvement of industry in organization and delivery of technical and vocational training.

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In the United States, although the focus for economy is shifting from manufacturing to services and information, TVET is still emphasized in a variety of areas including manufacturing, construction, mechanics and repair, precision production, transportation and material moving as well as in services provision including health care and technology among others.

In Japan, due to developments in industry leading to changes in skills needed for work, TVET has been given important consideration and attracts not only senior secondary school graduates but also university graduates who were not successful in securing employment upon graduation. Furthermore, Japan has undertaken education and economic policy reform and it is recognized that TVET policy must also be reviewed accordingly because it is considered a driving force of the economy.

In Africa like in other parts of the world, and particularly in East Africa, TVET has been given considerable importance. In Rwanda, for example, Vision 2020 highlights TVET as an area for particular emphasis in the fields of technology, engineering, manufacturing and management. A government agency known as Workforce Development Authority (WDA) was created, a TVET policy developed but there are still many challenges such as poor and inadequate instructional materials and equipment, existing institutions that are not responsive to TVET needs, lack of qualified, competent and motivated teachers, low level of public-private partnership, among others.

In Kenya, TVET policy was developed in 2012 and claims that the revitalization of TVET sector is key to the realization of Kenya’s vision 2030. The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Policy (2012) is open to all sectors of industry and reveals many challenges that TVET faces including the curriculum where teaching in TVET is mainly dominated by theory, limited access due to poverty which “makes it difficult for most Kenyans to pay for TVET” and resort to “cheap irrelevant programs whose graduates do not acquire the requisite skills necessary for the work place”. To increase enrolment in the institutions, recently the government offered loans and bursaries to all students pursuing any course in the institutions. Further, the government is building vocational training institutions in all constituencies in the country. However, there is paucity of literature on how the Government effort impacts on youth uptake to TVET training with emphasis on fabricated metals as an alternative to employment not only in Kenya but also the East African region.

Further, with regard to empowering youth through training to enhance their employability, Kimemia (2012) established the existence of limited use of protective clothing by students in TVET institutions, despite the safety concerns during practical sessions in diverse laboratories. The study recommends the implementation of a policy that provides appropriate protective clothing to students which is factored in the tuition fees. The study did not design appropriate protective clothing ideal for the youth. This project’s training module shall incorporate the concept of safety in the laboratories and workshops.

Moreover, findings by Orangi (2014) focusing on TVET institutions delivering clothing and textile courses and the trainers reveal the trainers needed training in entrepreneurship, information technology, machine maintenance (metal work) and higher professional qualifications. In addition, the facilities were found to be inadequate and had very few textbooks. The challenges negatively impact on the quality of graduates. The study recommended the development of new module curriculum by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in collaboration with TVET institutions. The study did not analyze the content of the curricular thus failed to provide suggestions on the revision of the same. This project will develop a training module in conjunction with the trainers/tutors and industry practitioners.

In Tanzania, the situation of TVET is somehow similar. TVET faces challenges related to curriculum, financing and limited resources and mismatch between courses offered and the needs of the labor market (International Centre for Technical and Vocational Training, 2016). The Technical Education and Training Policy in Tanzania (1996) also admits “falling standards in technical education training”. Consequently, these challenges contribute to low enrolment in TVET institutions thus reducing the chances of employability for the youth in Tanzania.

It has been documented that perceptions are a key segment towards the uptake of any particular apprenticeship. Perception entails attitudes, understanding, knowledge, viewpoints, among other attributes and comprises a key aspect in the appreciation of the training of youth in TVET institutions. In Europe, America and Japan positive attitude and knowledge (awareness) on vocational education contributed heavily to the youth involvement. He observed that several Western countries had developed strong systems of services for youth with regard to vocational education which help ease their movement into the labor market after completing school. These services include extensive information, guidance, placement, induction and follow up. In Japan for instance, there is great effort to conduct guidance programs and information to the educational authorities, who in turn give vocational orientation in schools. In the study by Metto (2016) in Kenya, it was found out that many youths perceived Vocational training in youth polytechnics to be a reserve for academic failures, especially school drop outs. It is noted that there is paucity of research data in the East African region on whether guidance and counseling as a key component for inspiring youth TVET training has been institutionalized in the polices as well as schools.

TVET training is an aspect of education which prepares individual for gainful employment. It increases the employability skill of an individual which make the individual saleable in the labor market. It is generally observed that metal work fabrication and youth employment in East Africa has not been well exploited and hence this study is proposed.

Charles (2016) while citing from ideas of Fitts and Posner theory of 1967 on skill development identified seven (7) principles that are very important in learning and training in TVET programs. These include: Vocational and technical education will be efficient in proportion as the environment in which the learner is trained is a replica of the environment in which he must subsequently work; effective vocational training can only be given where the training jobs are carried out in the same way, with the same operations, the same tools and the same machines as in the occupations itself; vocational education will be effective in proportion as it trains the individual directly and specifically in the thinking habits and the manipulative habits required in the occupation itself; vocational and technical education will be effective in proportion as it enables each individual to capitalize his or her interests; vocational training will be effective in proportion as the specific training experiences for forming right habits of doing are those of the finished skills necessary for gainful employment; for every occupation there is a minimum of productive ability, which an individual must possess in order to secure and retain employment in that occupation. If vocational education is not carried to that point with that individual it is neither personally nor socially effective; vocational education will be socially efficient in proportion as in its methods of instruction and its personal relations with learners, it takes into consideration the particular characteristics of any particular group which it serves.

The implication of the principles of learning to this study is that, learning a skill or acquisition of skills comes into place when the skills are first identified to be relevant to individuals and the society. This implies that training or learning a particular skill depends on the environment at which the individual lives, the activities found within the territory and the major occupation of the people. Therefore, to learn a skill or train individuals in a particular occupation, there should be the critical identification of the required skills by the people in the area. TVET training in the East African countries should therefore be based on the skills required by the industries around and those skills that can also be of self- employment. These principles also indicate that vocational and technical education is for those that want it, need it and want to profit by it.

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