Improving Forecasting and Planning for Skill Needs
Successful TVSD reforms include long-term planning and the setting up of a clear legal and regulatory framework, in the areas of access, provision, financing, and certification. Nevertheless, many African countries lack such a framework, as well as central co-ordination and guidance to develop and maintain certain quality standards. Of particular importance is the development of a national qualification framework for the classification and recognition of the qualifications attained through formal TVET and other training programmes. Supervisory bodies are needed for the accreditation of public and private training institutions, to develop new TVET qualifications and courses, and to provide skills testing and certification which recognise prior learning. Regulation should nevertheless be flexible enough to adapt to changing training needs and foster lifelong employability.
An analysis of different countries experiences shows that training cannot be effective unless its impact is monitored and assessed. Policy formulation and decision-making over TVSD requires the capacity to assess skill needs and training capacity and evaluate the impact of training schemes on the beneficiaries’ life and careers. The benefit of continuing monitoring and evaluation of training are exemplified from the experiences of specific project in Ethiopia and Benin.
Nevertheless, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are extremely rare in Africa. There is a paucity of data on youth unemployment, assessments of ongoing training projects, evaluations of past programmes, and impact studies. It is therefore a challenge for countries to identify the need for corrective measures in the course of implementing reform. The creation of labour market observatories in many African countries marks an initial step towards aligning training systems to labour market needs. These observatories are in charge of collating statistics on changes in the labour market and conducting surveys with the aim of providing ongoing advice and feedback to technical skills development strategies at national, regional and local level. They are likely to be more credible if they are independent of labour or education ministries. Institutional strengthening and funding would help manifest the potential of this institution. Important efforts should be made also to make regular labour market skills surveys and training needs assessments in collaboration with the industry in order to develop manpower development plans and provide appropriate feedback into curricula design and development. The experience of Rwanda offers some interesting insights in this respect.
Training schemes focused on self-employment have the greatest chances of being effective if they are part of a holistic support system (including incentives schemes, access to finance, marketing support, etc.) to ensure that skills development truly leads to the creation or consolidation of an enterprise. In Ghana, one NGO-supported programme which integrates start-up support (in the form of equipment credits) has allowed 88 per cent of its graduates to establish businesses after the completion of the training. The AfDB African Women in Business Initiative (AWIB) seeks to support the growth of women-owned enterprises by providing appropriate financial and business development support services in an integrated manner. The Bank is engaged in: i) raising awareness and capacity among stakeholders, in particular policy makers, on the challenges affecting businesswomen in Africa, and mobilise key players in the field of AWIB promotion; ii) reinforcing Business Support Provision by promoting, inter alia, capacity building and networking among businesswomen’s associations, which can support the emergence and growth of women-owned SMEs; iii) developing concrete forms of support for enterprise education and entrepreneurship development; iv) designing specific programmes and launching initiatives aiming at providing tailored and adequate financial and technical support to the development of women entrepreneurship in Africa. A critical element of this holistic support will be the need for close follow-up and mentoring of the women entrepreneurs. Other countries have put in place active labour-market policies to facilitate youth transition to work.
Access to microfinance is another important form of post-training support for graduates. Microcredit represents an integral part of the means deployed to cement training and make it more effective. It plays a crucial role in helping informal-sector workers to progress from the skills development phase to enterprise creation, consolidation, and development.