Photo credit: DiasporaEngager (www.DiasporaEngager.com).

On June 25, ACET’s Youth Employment and Skills–Pan African Coalition for Transformation (YES-PACT) initiative convened for the fourth edition of the YES-PACT learning series hosted by Niger. The series is a part of YES-PACT’s ongoing efforts to bring together high-level policymakers, key stakeholders, industry players and the public from the six YES-PACT member countries—Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Rwanda, and Uganda—to engage in discussions of practical policy solutions, share knowledge, and identify common gaps and best practices. The virtual event also included participants from Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya, Algeria, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, and France.

The theme was “Co- building TVET programs with industry to boost job readiness for young people in Niger.” It focused on Niger’s experiences and challenges with aligning TVET, or technical and vocational education and training, to industry requirements, as well as plans to improve practical outcomes for the youth in Niger through strengthened partnerships between training institutions and the private sector.

Mona Iddrisu, head of youth employment and skills at ACET, emphasized the transformative power of co-building TVET programs to combat youth unemployment, which stands at 23 percent in Niger. She highlighted that effective education and training, aligned with national development strategies and employment policies, could turn Africa’s burgeoning youth population into a formidable development asset and a competitive force in global markets. The event underscored the urgent need for collaborations between education providers and industry leaders, as 70 percent of employers currently report significant skills gaps.

She cited ACET research, revealing that despite increased educational access, the quality and relevance often fail to meet labor market demands, leading to skills mismatches and an oversupply of graduates in low-demand fields. Nonetheless, regions with strong TVET-industry partnerships, youth employment rates have surged by up to 30 percent. She pointed out that the mismatch between training and job market needs, along with the lack of work experience, too often traps young people in a cycle of unemployment.

Speaker presentation: Sharing experiences, best practice, and future directions

Ousseini Adamou Magagi, Director of Studies & Partnership, AIT (Niger), discussed a strategy to enhance the employability of youth through TVET programs. He highlighted the necessity for Niger to develop national TVET policies based on best practices, emphasizing the collaboration between training institutions and employers to align training with labor market needs. Key elements for successful co-building include thorough needs analysis, employer consultation, and sector monitoring to ensure training programs remain relevant and up to date.

He also identified various actors involved in this process, including public authorities, private sector representatives, and civil society, all of whom must work together through information sharing, consultation, and contributions to ensure the effectiveness of TVET programs. Tools for co-construction were categorized into four types: information, consultation, concertation, and contribution, each requiring different levels of involvement and commitment from stakeholders.

Challenges highlighted included high population growth and resulting unemployment, necessitating sustainable partnership frameworks and improved state management of skill acquisition systems. Practical recommendations raised included establishing systematic consultation mechanisms for job market analysis, involving companies in training and certification processes, and promoting partnerships between institutions and economic actors.

Policymaker remarks: TVET implementation insights and challenges

 Yavo Alain, Director-General of Initial Training (Cote d’Ivoire), in agreement with the speaker presentation, explained that before Cote d’Ivoire implemented its program reforms, the government went through an extensive planning and consultation phase that involved several critical steps to ensure success. Key elements outlined for successful co-building included thorough needs assessments, employer consultation, and sector monitoring to ensure training programs remain relevant and current. The government also integrated feedback mechanisms to continuously adapt and improve the curriculum based on evolving industry trends and technological advancements.

He emphasized the importance of building strong partnerships with industry leaders to align training outcomes with labor market demands. This type of collaborative approach, he argued, not only enhanced the employability of graduates but also fostered a sustainable and responsive TVET system that will support economic growth and development.

Panel discussion: Addressing key questions

 Adamou Ousseini Magagi was asked how the collaboration between TVET institutions and industry evolved in Niger over recent years, and if he could provide examples of successful partnerships between the African Institute of Technology and industry stakeholders?

Response: Mr. Magagi explained that over the past few years, the collaboration between TVET institutions and industry in Niger has significantly strengthened, driven by a mutual recognition of the need to align vocational training with the demands of the labor market. Increased collaboration has led to more targeted and relevant training programs that better prepare students for employment.

Yavo Alain was asked how his experience informed his approach to fostering collaborations between TVET institutions and industry in Côte d’Ivoire, what specific policies he has implemented to strengthen these partnerships, and what methods he uses to measure the impact of TVET programs on job readiness and employment rates for young people.

Response: Mr. Alain stated that his experience as the Director-General of Initial Training and Inspector-General of Civil Engineering deeply influenced his approach by helping him understand the technical requirements and evolving needs of the various sectors to better align Côte d’Ivoire’s training programs with industry standards.

In offering advice to Niger, he emphasized the importance of thorough planning and stakeholder engagement and advised conducting a comprehensive needs analysis to ensure that training programs align with the job market’s demands. He also highlighted the need for continuous dialogue with industry partners to keep the curriculum relevant. He mentioned that evaluation of trainees was assessed approximately nine months post-training. This continuous evaluation, conducted by a pilot committee, involved surveying different industries to understand the practical application of acquired skills.

Lastly, he emphasized the importance of training instructors to ensure they are experts in their fields before passing on knowledge. In Côte d’Ivoire, the CITFOR, an inter-ministerial institution, is responsible for the immersion and internship of trainers.

Amina Yekhlef, Knowledge Management Officer of Association for the Development of Education in Africa (Cote d’Ivoire), asked what approach has been used in rolling out co-building programs and how can the informal sector be included.

Response: Mr. Magagi explained that the ministry approached the program in three phases: analyzing job competencies in various sectors, linking of competencies to the job demand, and ensuring sustainability in the long run. He added that for the informal sector, certifications are available to ensure that young people have received the required form of training. Mr. Alain mentioned that Cote d’Ivoire has sectoral training to link the formal and informal sectors, and that the national chamber of commerce has information on all those working in the informal sector so that policies can be uniquely crafted for holistic solutions.

Key Takeaways 

Importance of TVET-industry collaboration. Discussions emphasized the transformative power of co-building TVET programs. Effective partnerships between education providers and industry leaders are crucial for aligning training with labor market needs, addressing significant skills gaps, and enhancing the employability of youth.

Strategies for successful TVET implementation: Presenters highlighted the necessity of thorough needs analysis, employer consultation, and continuous sector monitoring to keep TVET programs relevant. Examples from Niger and Cote d’Ivoire demonstrated that integrating feedback mechanisms and involving companies in training and certification processes significantly improve training outcomes and job readiness for youth.

Inclusive approaches for the informal sector: Discussions underscored the importance of including the informal sector in TVET initiatives. Strategies such as providing certifications for skills acquired in the informal sector and leveraging data from national chambers of commerce to tailor policies can help bridge the gap between formal education and informal job markets, ensuring comprehensive economic development.

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Source of original article: ACET (acetforafrica.org).
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