Africa: Consider Vocational training
It is worth recalling that vocational training is but one instrument for employment generation in Africa and, as such, should be kept in perspective. Whereas vocational training can develop appropriate skills and thereby improve labour supply and the “employability” of the work force, demand for labour depends on incentives for investment, including prices, the exchange rate and generally, the business climate in the country.
Vocational training should respond to the needs of the informal economy and be inclusive because in developing countries people work and trade predominantly in the informal economy.
Many technical vocational education and training systems fail because they focus on the needs of the formal economy. Contrary to a common tendency distinguishing the “formal economy” from the “informal economy” and developing different approaches for each of these “sectors”, is to develop an inclusive approach to the labour market.
Employment concerns should lead to strengthened links between education and vocational training. While the Millennium Development Goals have focused the attention of international donors on education, links to vocational training need to be strengthened to provide the youth with effective access to labour markets and include them in the productive economy with decent jobs.
Look at it from this angle, whether or not traditional agriculture is considered an informal activity, agriculture generally offers considerable scope for improving output and income through proper training of farmers. Where small scale enterprises prevail, as in traditional agriculture, the challenge is to increase productivity and reduce vulnerability, rather than to create employment.
Hence, vocational training in agriculture is mainly pursued through extension services, which need to be properly connected to research, market intelligence and professional organisations, and to provide for adequate training of trainers.
Vocational training should include all relevant stakeholders. To re-establish the connection between technical education and vocational training on the one hand, and the needs of the labour market on the other is paramount.
Associate social partners in technical vocational education and training systems for the identification of jobs and the development of appropriate training strategies and methods.
More and better data are needed to monitor and evaluate the impact of vocational training on economic growth and poverty reduction. Labour market observatories can help align training systems to labour market needs. Analysis of youth unemployment is essential before investing in expensive training schemes.