Apr 29 , 2023

A bill to form a link between the labour market demand and the field of specialisation in technical and vocational training was put forth by the Ministry of Labour & Skills.

Under Muferihat Kamil, the Ministry hopes to align the Technical & Vocational Educational Training (TVET) system with the labour policy. It has grouped dozens of TVET institutions into categories, each specialising in specific fields based on demand in the labour market.

The bill stipulates that a linkage council will be formed to analyse the demand of industries and prescribe directions to the fields of students where industries that will collaborate in linkage will be granted incentives.

According to Moedin Abamoga, the Ministry's training and institutional capacity building director, the new framework will bring qualified and skilled labour into the market. The students graduating from vocational schools are not matched for the jobs available in the market, where graduates from specific fields are forced to become idle or choose different fields for lack of a better option, he said.

Moedin said the program will be implemented in 1342 TVET schools across the country, with the first round piloting program starting next year in 90 polytechnic colleges.

"Departments that don't align with the industry demand will eventually be removed," he told Fortune.

Although massive financial resources were directed towards vocational education, most of the funding was spent on physical infrastructure. Moedin observes the programmes remain “inadequate” to address the need for skilled labour.

"The goal is to balance demand and supply in the labour market," he said.

TVET colleges will be following a training scheme where students will be trained by industry experts and have a first-hand experience in the workforce. The TVET regime rapidly expanded following legislation governing vocational education in 2004. The number of TVET institutes has quadrupled over the past two decades.

The Ministry achieved 83pc of its plan to create 2.6 million job opportunities over the past eight months, where over 200,000 people who graduated from higher education institutions benefit from the opportunities, with women taking more than half the posts.

TegbareId Polytechnic College was established in 1942 and is one of the schools rolling out the pilot. The College offers 12 programmes in eight fields, including manufacturing and textile, ICT and accounting.

Having 1,200 students graduate last year. It has been one of the few schools for the past five years implementing Industry linkage; where the college has integrated into more than 400 industries, where trainers will go to the industries to train for the jobs where more than 87pc of the students were employed last year.

GIZ is one of the companies supporting its reform efforts in vocational and technical education by making the industry linkage.

Takele Dejene, the college's industry linkage & job integration head, said they have done a feasibility study to recommend to students to the concentrated demand. The college has registered 1,000 students in the current fiscal year, and half are enrolled in the ICT department.

"Many refuse to join manufacturing sectors where the job demand is high," he said.

Injibara Polytechnic College is another college piloting the program in the Amhara Regional State. The college has currently enrolled 500 students in the fiscal year, four times less than what they enrolled in last year.

Mohammed Amin, deputy dean, said the proliferation of private colleges in the regional state has made technical schools less attractive to students.

"They prefer an easy way to get a certificate," said Mohammed.

He said 60-70pc of the students who graduated from the polytechnic college were able to find employment in the regional state.

The ICT department consists of 45 students. Melka Workneh, a third-year student at the college, said he enrolled in the department following his interest as a young kid. Still, the fear of not being able to find employment after graduation has him worried.

"I don't know what will await," he told Fortune.

Experts recommend that learning based on personal interest be factored while aspiring to meet the industry demand.

Daniel Fikadu, a business lawyer, perceives that the new stipulation has been contemplated for the past 10 years and will help in subsiding unemployment since the industry sector is not bringing the anticipated production for lack of a skilled workforce.

He believes that this will be a way to bring in the needed changes to meet the human resource demand. However, the right of those learning to gain knowledge will be completely discarded when departments are removed.

"It comes at the cost of interest," he said.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 29,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1200]

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