The discovery of oil in Turkana and the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) helped to expose skill gaps that Kenya needs address fast. During the construction of SGR, labour had to be imported to cover for skill gaps such as welding.
The same fate befell the firms exploring for oil in Turkana who had to fly in special skilled workers.
These projects bared the mismatch between markets needs and the technical and vocational skills available in Kenya.
There are many more high-skill mega projects lined up for implementation in the country and the requirement of technical skills will only increase with time.
Therefore, Kenya, and indeed the entire sub-Saharan Africa region needs to be able to jump on the global bandwagon of marching skills to industry requirements in a meaningful way in order to ensure her millions of youth become and stay relevant in the job market.
Unemployment remains a big concern among youth in Kenya, partly because of the mismatch between training and industry needs.
Technical training holds huge potential for jobs because of the prevailing shortage of graduates with technical skills.
Gladly, the Kenya government has appreciated this situation and adopted a deliberate policy to grow Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) following a shortage of graduates with technical skills.
Currently, Kenya boasts 4,450 vocational training centers and 11 national polytechnics. In a push to expand this, the government has already built 60 new technical and vocational colleges nationwide with an additional 70 set to be completed by end of 2018.
Student enrollment in TVET institutions has began climbing and more youth should be encouraged to join.
The Economic Survey 2018 shows that student enrolment in TVET institutions increased from 202,556 in 2016 to 275,139 in 2017.
This coincided with a 50.9 per cent rise in the registration of more of TVET institutions from 1,300 in 2016 to 1,962 in 2017.
Earlier in the year in April 2018, the Ministry of Education announced ambitious plans to enroll more than 3.1 million youths in technical colleges and more recently with the announcement of additional support in financing technical education through the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).In the 2018/19 national budget a total of Sh16 billion was also allocated for recruitment of 2,000 technical training instructors, capitation grants, and construction of 15 new technical training institutes.
This was a remarkable increment from the Sh6.5 billion allocated to TVETs in the previous financial year.These measures may not be enough to fill the gap in technical skills but form initial steps towards addressing youth unemployment.
Many agencies have noticed the potential of expanding TVETs in Kenya and have committed to support the cause. For instance, AVIC International is currently equipping a total of 134 TVET institutions to support this cause
The benefits of technical training will be immense to both the youth and the country’s economic credentials.
Lynette Mwende, public policy and advocacy manager, Avic International Holding Corporation.