WorldSkills Africa to empower youth with modern-day skills

Experts from WorldSkills International (WSI), the African Union, and Member States convened from 13th to 15th June 2023 to discuss the formation of WorldSkills Africa (WSAfrica).

This landmark initiative aims to harness the power of skills for Africa's productivity and competitiveness. WSAfrica will join the esteemed ranks of WorldSkills Americas, WorldSkills Asia, and WorldSkills Europe as part of the WSI family, promoting global skills development among youth and driving socio-economic growth within its member countries.

Currently boasting 85 member countries, WSI holds the responsibility of advancing vocational education and training worldwide. Notably, the organisation welcomed Kenya as its 84th member in 2020.

Over the past five years, additional countries such as Romania (2016), Ukraine and Pakistan (2017), Bangladesh and Poland (2018), Ghana and Uganda (2019), and Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan (2020) have joined.

However, out of Africa's considerable population, only nine countries are presently members of WSI, including South Africa (1990), Tunisia (1996), Morocco (1998), Namibia (2011), Egypt (2014), and Zambia (2014).

WorldSkills organisations hold a distinctive position in fostering skills development. Through national, regional, and international competitions, they engage thousands of young people, evoking enthusiasm among competitors, trainers, employers, and governments alike.

These competitions offer benchmarking opportunities, facilitate knowledge exchange, and foster collaboration in effective teaching practices and robust training systems.

As a global network, WorldSkills serves as a central hub for vocational education and training, ensuring skills development aligns with workplace demands while inspiring individuals to choose skills education as a foundation for a fulfilling future.

WorldSkills competitions not only raise standards and promote professional development but also drive improvements in vocational training.

The journey of preparing for these competitions is a transformative experience, providing participants with valuable learning, exposure to the latest global trends, and the chance to become champions in their respective fields.

Winning a medal is seen as an added achievement, with the true value lies in the experiences gained throughout the training process. WorldSkills competitions offer insights into new technologies, innovative work practices, and effective training methodologies.

WSAfrica seamlessly integrates into the WorldSkills International movement, connecting member countries, global partners, governments, regional and international organizations, educational institutions, and non-governmental entities.

Its primary focus is to create and facilitate sustainable skills development initiatives for African youth. Through a range of projects and activities, WSAfrica aims to establish a continental platform within the African Union to support and drive skills development efforts in collaboration with the WorldSkills network.

The African Union plays a pivotal role as a key partner for WorldSkills Africa, aligning with the AU's Agenda 2063 for continental development.

This agenda emphasises the need for stronger industry ties, alignment to labour markets, enhanced skills profiles, improved employability, and increased entrepreneurship opportunities for African youth and women.

WorldSkills Africa stands as a crucial component in achieving the goals and vision outlined in the AU's Agenda 2063.

WorldSkills serves as a global platform for skills excellence and development, with a strong emphasis on Africa.

The significance of skills development in Africa is underscored in the WorldSkills Vision 2025, which highlights the importance of partnerships in enhancing vocational education and training systems while empowering African youth to realize their personal and economic potential.

In February 2019, the African Union (AU) and WorldSkills International (WSI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to lay the foundation for the official creation of WorldSkills Africa.

The author is the Director General TVETA