Many African governments have come to understand that skills training is a major pillar of economic development, and have started making efforts to invest in skills development initiatives.
We highlight some of the projects and policies aimed at equipping young people, and the unemployed, with the skills they need to enter the job market.
Kenya is among the countries blazing a trail in youth skills development and training in Africa. In 2015, the government, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the Kenya Youth Employment and Skills Programme (K-YES). Catering to people between the ages of 18 and 35 without a high school certificate, the initiative has already provided quality vocational, financial and business skills training to over 50,000 young people.
The $21.9 million investment is set to run for five years, focusing on improving technical skills in several high-demand sectors such as poultry farming, masonry, plumbing, as well as retail.
The Ghanaian government has, over the years, supported several skills development initiatives in a bid to solve the problem of unemployment and upskill its citizens. One of the programmes that are proving to be successful is the Skills Development Fund (SDF), which was put in place to support technical and vocational training. According to the SDF, the project provides financial support to companies to help them “upgrade the skills of employees for productivity improvement and to enable employees to adopt emerging new technologies, and enabling current employees to earn higher technical and vocational skills qualifications and incomes.”
Since its launch in 2010, the SDF has created thousands of jobs in a range of sectors including agriculture, construction, and tourism. The fund recently awarded GHC 41.3 million (US $9.2 million) worth of grants to more than 170 small, medium and large businesses in the education, science and technology, and finance sectors.
More than 6,000 young Rwandans are enjoying the fruits of their government’s’ Skills Development Fund, a programme that has set a budget of US $34.5 million to minimise the skills gap in the country. The initiative, which is jointly funded by the Rwandan government and World Bank, is aimed at helping the country’s youth acquire various technical and vocational skills necessary to gain employment and ultimately boost the East African nation’s economy.
With funding ranging from US $10,000 to $100,000 per grant, the SDF provides financial support to institutions and companies that offer skills training. Eligible recipients of grants include public and private learning centres, cooperatives as well as non-governmental organisations that provide training. These institutions offer short-term courses that range from one to three months, with the aim of getting graduates ready for the job market.
The SDF programme is targeted at young adults who have completed either primary or secondary school or have graduated from a vocational institution. Several industries have also been identified where there’s a skills shortage. These include ICT, agriculture, mining, and transport.
In 2016, the Mauritian government announced the implementation of a programme aimed at reducing youth unemployment by equipping them with technical skills. The National Skills Development Programme set an objective of training at least 4,000 young people from the ages of 16 to 35 years who have completed high school.
The programme aims to address the skills shortage in a range of industries such as tourism and hospitality, construction, nursing, as well as information and communications technology. The free courses run over a period of six to 12 months, providing students with a monthly stipend of Rs6,000 (US $177) to cover travel expenses.
The Egyptian government partnered with the private sector and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to establish a project aimed at boosting vocational education and training in the country. Launched in 2016, Workforce Improvement and Skill Enhancement (WISE) is set to run for three years and will see US $22.1 million being spent on improving technical secondary education and skills for the youth.
Under the programme, school curriculum will be improved and teachers trained. Schools will work with selected companies in the manufacturing and services sectors to help facilitate skills match for the young people who are ready to start work.