How the WorldSkills competition prepares youth for world of work

Team that represented Kenya at the WorldSkills Competition in Namibia, Swakopmund. [Courtesy]

Over 100 young people battled it out in 16 skills areas during the WorldSkills Africa Swakopmund (2022).

The competition was meant to showcase the youths’ competencies based on industry occupational standards.

Kenya participated in restaurant services, cooking and mechatronics, winning gold and bronze for restaurant services and cooking respectively, and settling for a third position in mechatronics.

The focus now for the teams is in preparation for the international WorldSkills competition that will take place this October in Shanghai, China.

Organisers said the conference provided a platform for knowledge generation and sharing of experiences in effective TVET systems, technology, gender and social inclusion and TVET funding models.

There exists a symbiotic relationship between technology and TVET. Technology can be harnessed to address societal development challenges, climate change, environmental degradation and scarcity of resources.

TVET is key in addressing these developments through the transfer of knowledge and skills.

Artificial Intelligence

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the management and delivery of technical training.

ICT and AI are now considered by many governments as critical components of a responsive, demand-driven TVET system tasked with meeting the needs of trainees for more flexible individualised training. Also, a new world of manufacturing and cognitive services demanded new skills to drive the revolution. As a result, this increased demand for higher cognitive, social, emotional and technological skills.

Although TVET is a socio-economic enabler for supplying skills needed for inclusive and sustainable growth and creation of cohesive societies, TVET systems in most African countries still experience challenges such as skills mismatches, weak industry and stakeholder participation, and incompetent TVET teachers.

To address some of these challenges, countries should consider working on anticipation of future skills needs as a key preventative measure to avoid skills mismatch.

This will require development and implementation of comprehensive Labour Market Information System (LMIS) to assess the extent to which qualifications and skills of persons in employment correspond to job requirements.

LMIS can also provide policy makers with up-to-date information that can influence development of skills and implementation of appropriate employment policies and strategies.

This can be complemented by Competence-Based Education and Training (CBET), which addresses the issue of skills mismatch. Through CBET, learning is best measured by students demonstrating mastery of what they have learned, rather than the number of hours they have spent in a classroom.

This can be integrated into technical training to equip employees with the right skills to perform well in the workplace. This is in addition to equipping them with the knowledge and competencies to help them cope with current and future social, economic and ecological challenges.

Successful implementation of CBET requires private sector engagement and partnership. This will facilitate curriculum development/review, assessment and certification. Eventually, this culminates in the updating of national qualification frameworks to provide different learning pathways for TVET graduates.

TVET teacher training is becoming more crucial over time due to the widening gap between the TVET graduates skills and the labour market demands in the rapidly changing world of work.

Proper training of TVET teachers is essential for the implementation of CBET to fulfill the labour market needs. Also, 21st century skills and life-long-learning abilities are increasingly becoming an essential part to be integrated into the curriculum regardless of the individual field of study.

Social inclusion

Notably, gender and social inclusion are emerging as new important areas in TVET. Marginalisation of women and persons with disabilities leads countries to lose out on the possibility of utilising the potential of their human capital. It is not only a loss for the local community, but also for national development. This has put increasing pressure on governments to improve gender equality, especially with regard to women’s enrolment in male-dominated TVET courses.

In addition, the emancipation of girls and women through TVET, with a view to allowing them to enter the labour market and thus to contribute to their family’s incomes, is a key contribution to poverty alleviation.

Inclusion plays a critical role in maintaining equity, which allows persons with disabilities to produce and reach equal outcomes along with their abled counterparts.