Journey to what is needed in Kenya’s TVETs

Man cuts a plastic bottle with a machine. [Photo: Courtesy]
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are over 75 million young people globally aged 15 to 24 years who are looking for a job.

Despite the gains made in the last decade, progress in achieving education for all has stagnated since 2007 - with over 121 million children and adolescents today out of primary and lower secondary school globally. However, the all picture may change if a suggestion by contained in World Bank report is something to be considered.

It states that in order to reduce the rate of unemployment in the continent, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes must be fully equipped and funded well to help produce the well-competent that will drive the economy.

Kenya is among the countries that is on forefront in implementing TVET education in the continent and already there are success stories of graduates of TVET who are changing the society by venturing into self-employment.

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Eng. Thomas Kimani is the co-founder and Managing Director of Pertkraft Designs Limited, a creative construction company which specializes in the design, fabrication and installation of architectural, industrial and manufacturing installations.

He shares his journey with Rading Biko on why he relies heavily on technical skills to build his thriving creative construction which the government can incorporate.

  1. What are some of the key areas that the company specialized areas?

Our areas of specialization are mainly structural and architectural metal work which involves the design and fabrication of elements such as facades, gates and railings, balustrades, gazebos, motifs, doors and windows. The technical team that we have who mainly graduates from technical institutes have enabled us execute all our projects diligently from concept development, detailed design, fabrication and installation.

  1. The company seems to be driven by technical skills, what are your thoughts on technical skills which is been championed by the government as way of creating jobs for the youth?

Kenya as a developing country, with high unemployment rates and with goals such as the Big Four Agenda and the vision 2030 needs a huge number of workers with technical skills. By developing such skills and the opportunities that are available in the country, the young people will be able to earn a decent living and build a future while at the same time contribute to the country's growth and industrialization. This is the reason why we decided to tap into the technical graduates who are well competent when it comes to delivery on projects as opposed to some university graduates whose technical skills are only on paper.

  1. What are number of artisans within the company and what are their level of education.

Well at the moment our technical team comprises of; 8 welders, 2 masons, 1 carpenters and 4 unskilled assistants. Most of them are certificate holders, some have been trained on the job and we usually hire casual labourers when there's more work with tight timelines. We also have a management team, with 2 designers who use Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Numeral Control (CNC) machines, a project manager, a finance officer and a marketing and systems manager. The whole team is comprised of young people aged between 27 to 33 years of age.

  1. What are some of the key projects that you have undertaken?
One thing I love about technical jobs is that they offer the opportunity to solve problems while creating visual pieces of art. Among the key projects we have handled include; fabricated steel structure elements for pedestrian bridges in the Mara, Designed and fabricated the doors, gates and railings for a shopping mall in Karen, Done Renovations at a Restaurant in the CBD, assembled a container office in Tigoni, built an ablution Block for a school in Limuru town and worked on several residential houses in Tigoni, Karen, Syokimau, Kitengela and Kitisuru.

  1. What is the future like for the company and the construction industry?
The future is promising, one of our core values is KAIZEN, we are working hard and constantly improving ourselves in terms of skills acquisition, improving our processes and eventually delivering better quality products, within lesser time periods cost effectively. We are also working hard on the CNC technology so that we can create innovative and transformative products for the construction industry.

When it comes to the construction industry, its one sector that is set to grow steadily into the future. The government is still spending heavily on infrastructure projects; this comes with opportunities for the private sector. We have the Big Four Agenda and the Vision 2030 which presents a great opportunity for the technical graduates to apply their skills in these areas so as help realize these two main visions.

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Francis Njoroge the fabrication foreman assisting Kelvin Kirubi a welder in assembling a metal grill.