Unlocking The Future With Technical Education
Kenya is among the countries hardest hit by unemployment, with 70 per cent of the unemployment being young people. This clearly shows that unemployment in Kenya affects youth hardest and our challenge as a country is to take advantage of the growing numbers of youth capital. If we can place them to work, Kenya would experience unmatched economic growth.
Vision 2030 is an infrastructure program which means the program drives our economic development. Because of the importance attached to the roadmap to a middle income economy by 2030, it is necessary to have according to our roadmap of 450,000 artisans, 90,000 technicians and 22,000 technologists. Taking Kenya to the next level is based on an infrastructure program which is currently being outsourced because we do not have the skills locally. We therefore indirectly outsource our economic development to the rest of the world. HF Foundation has an initiative that is striving to in-source Kenya’s economic development by creating an Army of 1 Million Artisans.
Although Kenya has made good progress in technical and vocational education by supporting TVET institutions, our work is far from over. Over time, industry demands have evolved as the structure of our economy has changed, to both labor-intensive and skill-intensive industries, and now, increasingly towards an innovation-intensive future. Education is a forward-looking enterprise – it seeks to prepare our youths for a society and economy that will only exist fifteen to twenty years in the future.
The majority of TVET and youth polytechnic institutions in Kenya run significantly under capacity. The reduced enrollment leads to a vicious cycle of under investment in facilities, education and negative attitudes towards TVETs, and ultimately back to reduced enrollment. By increasing enrollment and thereby increasing revenues, TVET institutions can invest intelligently, improve the overall quality of training, and increase the overall supply of skilled labor to the market.
Significant portions of Kenya’s youth do not have practical access to affordable options to help them fund their schooling and subsequent employment or ability to start businesses. As a result, a number of qualified youth do not enroll in TVET institutions, contributing to the vicious cycle described.
By working with Government, HFC and KIVA to create innovative financing options for TVET students and alumni, from educational loans to toolkit loans programs, HF Foundation creates an opportunity for the financially disadvantaged to access training and ultimately employability, leading to their ability to sustain themselves and their family while contributing back to the Kenyan economy.
TVET institutions are currently not driven by the demand of the industry. Therefore curriculum, facilities, teaching approaches, and resources are not targeted towards developing the type of skills the industry requires both on a local and national level. This results in a supply and skills mismatch, leading to unrealized projects, use of external labor, and additional unemployment due to graduates with unemployable skills. By creating a greater connection between the building and construction industry and the education system, HF Foundation aims to increase the participation of the industry in dictating curriculum, and participating in the education of both students and teachers by delivering a competency based curriculum.
We have realized for us to attain the high targets we have set for ourselves in growing this country, we must have men and women who have not been trained on no on how things are done but trained on how to do things. There is a clear difference between learning how things are done and learning how to do things. It is good to have graduates who have been told how things are done but it’s better to have graduates who know how to do things. This is to say we need graduates, men and women who will turn metal, wood, cotton into products that we can use. That is what TVET will do for us and that is the focus if we have to attain the goals we have set for ourselves. That is why TVET is important.
Communications Manager, HF Foundation.