|Learning to Compete: Education, Training & Enterprise in Ghana, Kenya & South Africa - Education Research Paper No. 42 (DFID, 1999, 122 p.)|
This report has sought to develop a new account of the relationships between education, training and small enterprise development in the light of the increasing challenges provided by globalisation. It has sought to identify new trends and to point to areas in which existing thinking appears to be out of touch with the new reality. Arising from such an analysis is a series of recommendations that can be offered to national governments and international agencies with either sectoral or overall developmental concerns. As was noted back in Chapter One, and subsequently, national contexts vary significantly and these recommendations require interpretation in the light of such contexts.
6.1. INSERT LEARNING-LED COMPETITIVENESS INTO DEVELOPMENT DEBATES
The overall recommendation of this report is that development policies be reconceptualised in the light of the notion of learning-led competitiveness. This requires that development policies have a sharper focus on the need to improve competitiveness at all levels. It also highlights the need to see learning systems and processes as core to competitiveness strategies. Greater competitiveness can reduce poverty but it is important that any benefits should be enjoyed widely and that obstacles to economic participation be identified and tackled.
6.2. UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS OF GLOBALISATION BETTER
Whilst globalisation should not be overstressed as a phenomenon, it appears clear that it raises crucial issues and challenges for development in African contexts. It highlights in particular the importance of policy coherence. Sectoral policies of both African governments and development cooperation agencies need to develop clearer analyses of the likely impacts of globalisation and possible responses on sectoral issues. This then needs to inform all elements of development policy, including issues such as the world trade regime and immigration policy.
6.3. ADDRESS THE RANGE OF BARRIERS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF LEARNING ENTERPRISES
Enterprises need to be helped to learn. This means that the current focus on enabling environments needs to be expanded to include detailed policies concerned with how to overcome other constraints. Examples of these include poor infrastructure, high corruption and low trust. The growing agency and government interest in business development services should include considerable attention to the provision of services that help enterprises to acquire knowledge and skills for competitiveness and that demonstrate to entrepreneurs the advantages of becoming more information-and skills-oriented.
6.4. CONSIDER INTER-ENTERPRISE LINKAGES AND THE ROLE OF LEARNING THEREIN
Inter-enterprise linkages can offer powerful advantages for learning and competitiveness. Governments and agencies should develop mechanisms to promote awareness within enterprises of the possibilities of such linkages and the importance of focusing them on learning-led competitiveness. They should also address the obstacles that limit either the spread or effectiveness of linkages. Caution should be exercised in intervening in the workings of informal sector associations. Nonetheless, there is reason for thinking that these organisations should be encouraged to develop further. Attention needs to be given to the appropriate modalities for such encouragement. This should contain a particular focus on the ability of associations to become involved in programmes of skills and technology upgrade. The role of such associations as stakeholders in the policy process also needs to be emphasised. The relationship between such associations and their formal sector counterparts is in need of further attention.
6.5. PLACE LEARNING-LED COMPETITIVENESS AT THE HEART OF SMALL ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT POLICY
Small enterprise development policy needs to be more sharply focused on positive responses to the challenge of globalisation. Policy should be more clearly oriented to making enterprises more competitive, and better at exploiting their own knowledge and skills and those of others around them. Where policies are concerned with particular target groups, it is essential that the ultimate focus of empowering these clients to access sustainable labour market niches is at the heart of any intervention.
6.6. BROADEN THE UPE VISION
A continued policy commitment to universal primary education is important. However, it is necessary to focus this commitment even more clearly on the post-school outcomes that are intended to arise from UPE. This requires that education policies be far stronger in their analysis of economic conditions and the linkages between education and its economic and developmental consequences. The notion of essential learning needs contained in the Declaration of Education for All needs to be kept at the heart of thinking about educational provision. Indeed, it should be developed further to take far better account both of the implications of globalisation and the importance of SMEs and self-employment to future labour market insertion. Such a broadened and deepened vision of essential learning needs will inevitably highlight necessary skills and knowledge for development that cannot be provided in primary schools. It is essential that education policy continues to strengthen its emphasis on a genuinely sector-wide approach. Part of this approach should be a consideration, in the particular national context, of the appropriate mechanisms and collaborations for the provision of all the essential learning needs.
6.7. CONSTRUCT A CURRICULUM FOR COMPETITIVENESS
Education policy reform should pay more attention to the way that the curriculum can promote competitiveness. It is essential that reforms consider carefully the current situation in national education systems but also the challenges for the future brought by forces such as globalisation. National curriculum reform needs to be far more closely related to detailed national strategies for economic development.
6.8. ACKNOWLEDGE TRAINING'S IMPORTANT ROLE IN DEVELOPMENT
Training should not be treated as a marginal element of either educational or industrial policy. In a context of globalisation, it is a core element of strategies for both competitiveness and poverty eradication. This importance should be reflected in the profile given to training in national policies and in the locus of responsibility for training in governmental structures. This is equally the case for international development agencies. Training's role has not been sufficiently acknowledged in either social development or economic development policies at the international level. It is important, therefore, to explore whether there should be cooperation on the development of an agreed target, or targets, for training. Such a focus should be both on the competitiveness and equity dimensions of training provision.
6.9. IMPROVE PUBLIC TRAINING'S ABILITY TO SUPPORT COMPETITIVE SELF-EMPLOYMENT
Training policies need to be clearer about the role of preparation for self-employment as part of the overall policy vision. More detailed analysis is needed of how public and private institutions can better provide necessary skills for self-employment and how this integrates with other policies designed to encourage competitive SMEs. Programmes of training for self-employment must be made more consistent in their concentration on this goal, through selection and provision to outcomes. This includes a revisiting of the relative merits of training prior to and during self-employment. Exploration should be made of the possibilities of connecting training for self-employment with business linkages.
6.10. EMPOWER TRAINING PROVIDERS TO BE MORE MARKET RESPONSIVE
Financial support to training institutions must focus more clearly on facilitating their responsiveness to market needs and the goals of funding should be clear. Improved responsiveness is likely to require an initial investment of resources and is damaged by funding reductions. Greater cost recovery should be linked to better provision of products and services to clients and local communities and must avoid undermining either student access or local enterprises. Mechanisms need to be put in place which ensure that institutions can alter courses to respond quickly to new market needs whilst the national level can still ensure quality and national strategic oversight.
6.11. EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITIES FOR BETTER SKILLS DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE SME SECTOR
More attention needs to be paid to the ability of indigenous systems of skills development to respond to the challenge of globalisation. Even where the performance of such systems is inadequate, extreme caution should be taken in attempting interventions to improve this performance. The design of such interventions, or the creation of models where no tradition exists, require more investigation through careful piloting. Such an investigation should focus particularly on the sustainability of such interventions, the involvement of all legitimate stakeholders in their construction and delivery and their ability to enhance learning-led competitiveness.
6.12. EMPHASISE SKILLS TRANSFER FROM LARGE TO SMALL FIRMS
It is unlikely that lengthy pathways via wage employment to self-employment can be significantly shortened by interventions. Indeed, the accumulation of capital, skills, experience and networks over a number of years within larger firms is an important endowment brought to self-employment by those who deliberately make the transition. Where intervention can be helpful is in promoting such transitions through encouragement of suitable workers, sensitising employers to the sub-contracting potential and facilitating the transition through support to mentoring. Whilst this is an appropriate area for a small enterprise development programme to support, such a programme should be supported by and inform broader policy and programme development in both training and small enterprise development. Interventions in this area can also benefit from treating straddling across wage and self-employment as more than just a transitional phase.
6.13. DEVELOP HOLISTIC POLICY THINKING
It is crucial in both national departments and international agencies that holistic perspectives be developed actively. Implementation is undermined when sectoral policies either fail to reflect priorities and knowledge from other sectors or are not articulated with overall strategies and priorities. Structures that facilitate networking across portfolios are vital. Staff development must also focus very strongly on the capacity to view policies and programmes in their broader contexts.