|Jobs for Africa - Towards a Programme of Action - Report of the ILO/UNDP Programme on Employment Generation and Poverty Reduction (ILO - UNDP, 1997, 107 p.)|
|Chapter 2: Technical assistance for the generation of employment and reduction of poverty|
|2.2 Technical Assistance at the National Level|
In order to make human resource development more responsive to their economic and social needs, African countries face the formidable task of reforming their vocational education and training (VET) systems. The Jobs for Africa Policy Framework for an Employment-Intensive Growth Strategy outlines the essential elements of a programme to reform VET systems in the region. It underlines the fact that countries in sub-Saharan Africa will need to continuously up-grade the skills of the labour force, to respond successfully to the challenges brought about by structural change, economic liberalisation and an increasingly integrated and global economy.
Economic hardship and structural adjustment programmes have frequently compromised the ability of many governments in the region to finance and provide education and training commensurate with rapidly evolving training needs and priorities. In this rapidly changing environment, governments cannot act independently. The private sector, governments, labour and, in general, civil society must develop a common vision of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, and engage in social dialogue both to develop training policies, and to reform existing delivery systems. A reform of curricula is long overdue. The aim should be to introduce modular curricula that ensure the achievement of work competencies in skills according to precise objectives. Any policies and programmes to broaden the sources of finance for Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training must depart from the premise that those who are potential new (and old) contributors are also integral partners in the process of defining and implementing policies. Finally, training programmes for people working in the informal sector can significantly improve productivity and income generation. Formal vocational education and training institutions have in some cases been able to redirect their objectives and curricula so that they correspond to the skill needs in farming as well as in informal manufacturing and services. An integral element of such a redirection is careful analysis of existing market opportunities in the local area and training in multiple skills needed for market access. Expanding and strengthening informal apprenticeship must also be explored.
Experience from South Africa, Zambia, and most recently Malawi suggest that a momentum can be created to carry out fundamental reforms of training systems, provided that donor backing is secured. ILOs long experience in promoting social dialogue provide an excellent opportunity to engage in a tripartite dialogue, and to develop action programmes on training in selected countries.
An action programme must, in the first pace, bring together the social partners in selected African countries. Social partners should be understood in a broad sense and should include, in addition to the ILOs traditional tripartite constituency, other stakeholders in training, such as autonomous training agencies and institutions, NGOs, industry associations, chambers of industry and commerce, and informal sector associations. To strengthen the capacity of the aforementioned actors to develop training policies the following activities could be undertaken:
a) identification of training and human resources development activities that enhance the employment effects of public investment projects;
b) development of tools to identify target groups which could benefit from training interventions in support of employment oriented investment programmes and projects;
c) assessment of the capacity of national and local training institutions and non-formal training providers to implement the training interventions.
A national Plan of Action, based on this training capacity analysis, can then be prepared to rehabilitate, strengthen or expand existing institutions (and/or possibly create new ones) and support non-formal training suppliers to implement a human resource development strategy. These interventions are not exhaustive, and they should not be seen either as ad-hoc activities for any one particular project, but must constitute an integral part of the training policy and system reform process which will include strengthening, both the training providers and also the training support infrastructure. This infrastructure includes the institutions and organisations that undertake employment and training needs and capacity analysis, identify target groups, diversify and devise alternative financing mechanisms for training, and ensure a more representative governance structure of training, among other activities.
Finally, The lack of adequate basic education and technical skills, and managerial competence in such areas as bookkeeping accounting and the like, are widely recognized as serious constraints to raising employment and productivity in the informal economy. ILO training packages such as community based training, skills development for self-reliance, and Improve Your Business (IYB) can be used to improve the technical skills and managerial knowledge base in the informal economy. The introduction of business education into the curricula of vocational training institutions, and the expansion of the scope of basic education including functional adult literacy programmes should increase productivity in the informal economy.