A Practical Approach to Address Skills Gap in Construction
One of the major challenges facing the development of the labour market in Kenya is the absence of a skills inventory that would indicate the distribution of well-trained Kenyans. The truth is that many young people who end up in the informal or Jua Kali sector do not have formal training to make them more competitive. One estimate from the African Development Bank indicates that 75% of the artisans are not formally or adequately trained.
An innovative approach to this problem is to establish skills development centers delivering competency based programs at construction sites. This enables youth working at site to gain from a deeper understanding of their technical skills and giving a practical experience for those lacking in the technical skills. This approach, a brain child of HF Foundation, has been implemented in various HFDI (formerly Kenya Building Society) sites in partnership with Global Communities. In September 2015, this program saw 126 youth trained and offered employment on site.
According to 2015 economic survey the construction industry contributed 13.1% to Kenya’s GDP. Young people look to the sector for income as day laborers. Most are self-taught having no certification for the craft and therefore do not follow proper techniques, leading to sub-standard work on the one hand and very low remuneration on the other.
The effect of adopting on-site training looking at Technical Vocational Training enables us to see the classroom and the workplace as not just a single continuum but a cyclical approach to learning, which invariably beckons us to enter into a conversation about how the world of work can transform into a learning and training space.
With a construction industry that is largely driving economic development, Kenya today offers our youth a vast pool of desirable well earning jobs. The future middle-class jobs will come from the emergence of artisans who are highly skilled.
Communications Manager, HF Foundation.