Skills passport plan opens doors for workers


Victoria Wambui of Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology (left) and Maxwell Magoi of Dedan Kimathi University (right) at the ongoing World Skills Africa Competition in Namibia. [Courtesy]

Experts in the technical and vocational training sector are mulling over the idea of introducing a ‘skills passport’ to open up opportunities for a skilled workforce across the continent.

The idea of enabling workers to export their skills within the continent was mooted as Kenya joined other African countries for the World Skills Africa competition in Namibia.

Technical and Vocational Training Authority CEO Kipkirui Langat, who is leading the Kenyan team, said there is need to close the existing skills gap in the continent by introducing value addition. 

“We need to introduce a skills passport that will allow skilled Africans to secure employment in any part of the continent,” he told The Standard yesterday. 

Nicholas Ouma, a senior youth adviser at the AU Commission who is also attending the competition, said they are working on a qualification framework that aims at enhancing skills portability across the continent. 

“When completed, the framework will help secure a continental free trade area and encourage youth to take technical courses,” Mr Ouma said.

The Ministry of Education is currently emphasising skills and competency-centred learning through the Competency-Based Curriculum that was rolled out six years ago. But Dr Langat said more needs to be done to secure a skilled workforce. 

“Africa is the leading exporter of raw materials in the world with a population of 1.3 billion people; 65 per cent of which are the youth. The raw materials are taken through value addition then sold at a higher price by developed countries,” said Dr Langat. 

He added, “We (stakeholders in technical and vocational training sector) are looking forward to closing the skills gap by introducing value addition skills in the curriculum.” 

In addition, Langat said introduction of favourable policies and legal framework, adequate funding of institutions, improved infrastructure and learning equipment as well as employing more trainers would instill the skills in learners. 

“There is a loose understanding of technical and vocational training from the top of the leadership hierarchy. There can only be an impact if it receives a political push in terms of introducing policies through Parliament and many others,” he said. 

In September last year, Education CS George Magoha called for introduction of a state agency that would focus on regulating the curriculum used to train students in technical training institutions across the country.

Prof Magoha also acknowledged the contribution of technical jobs to the economy. 

“The diaspora remittances are the highest in the country and they mostly come from menial jobs that are shunned by the youth. That is why the narrative about courses offered by our technical training institutions must change,” he said. 

In the past, students shunned technical courses but preferred university degrees, which led to overcrowding in the job market as many young people had degrees. 

However, this has changed in the last five years, according to the Ministry of Education data which showed that a large number of KCSE 2021 candidates applied for technical training. 

Last year, the Ministry of Education enrolled 137,072 students to TVET institutions countrywide. 

At the same time, 6,617 students who had qualified for university education opted to go for technical training and forfeited their university places. 

At the time, Prof Magoha attributed the choice by the students to government reforms in middle-level colleges. 

“I am happy to note that candidates who qualify for university admission are increasingly embracing TVET courses,” he said.  

According to the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training, the government has increased the number of TVET institutions from 52 in 2013 to 238 by the end of 2021. Of the 238, some 192 were fully operational while the other 46 were still under construction.