Lessons Learned from Technical and Vocational Skills Development Reforms
TVSD in Africa operates under many constraints that limit its impact and further expansion. This sober picture is not merely due to lack of resources but also to how available resources are being used. Several African countries have missing/weak links at many levels: between national development policy and the role of TVSD; between skills needs in industry and educational curricula; between TVET institutions and universities; between formal training and firm-based training or informal training. In some countries, the responsibility for TVSD is often split among different ministries and agencies often operating in isolation and not as part of a comprehensive system for human resources development. In turn, the lack of a coherent strategic approach to the sector results in fragmentation of efforts, and wasted resources, and thus makes it difficult for private actors and donors to assist adequately the development of technical skills.
In the wave of public sector reforms many countries have decided to reshape the technical and vocational skill development system in order to make it more efficient and effective. The need to link training to employment (either self or paid employment) is at the root of all the good practices and strategies observed. In some countries TVSD reforms have been underway long enough to identify some of the main lessons learned. The review of successful African countries’ experiences suggests that TVSD strategies need to be informed by a clear vision, fully integrated into development and poverty reduction strategies and action plans, and focused on sectors with promising employment prospects. In particular, in the majority of African countries where the informal sector is dominant, TVSD reforms should recognise and emphasise skills development, such as business management and entrepreneurial training. Successful implementation of the strategy requires an enabling environment for monitoring, evaluation, funding, and regulation. Partnership with the private sector, employers and civil society is increasingly recognised to be crucial to secure additional resources to finance TVSD, ensure training relevance, and promote lifelong learning.