Vocational training, an asset for sustainable development in Africa
“Economic, technological, social and educational policy imperatives have made vocational training a priority in all regions of the world,” says Indian education specialist Shyamal Majumdar in charge of UNESCO’s International Vocational Training Center (UNESCO-UNEVOC).
Today, quality education and exclusively vocational training has become an issue to the point where the United Nations (UN) has devoted point 4 of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goal) to quality education. In practical terms, at the level of vocational training and higher education, this involves ensuring that by 2030, “women and men all have equal access to technical, vocational or tertiary sector, including university, of quality and at an affordable cost”.
Vocational training, a channel for acquiring practical skills
After the Millennium Development Goals strengthened the primary and secondary education sector, huge numbers of young people who have completed their schooling are now in need of employment. For many of them, vocational training can be an opportunity to further their education, to acquire practical skills and competences and to discover their own talent. Another asset is the provision of a qualified workforce directly operational in the labor market and the strengthening of the skills of vulnerable people working in precarious and informal situations.
“Vocational training promotes the construction of highly productive human capital for States. Unlike development factors such as labor and physical capital which are exhausted in their use, human capital is not exhausted but is further strengthened through professional experience. This dimension makes vocational training an important element in the sustainability of development,” explained education economist Armand Attisso.
The need to promote vocational education in Africa
“Even if it is not the only solution, vocational training in real adequacy with the needs of the market, is one of the ways to prioritize to anticipate a worrying scenario of youth unemployment and strengthen the competitiveness of African economies», indicated the Moroccan Minister of Higher Education and Vocational Training, Said Amzazi at the first edition of the African Vocational Training Summit.
In several African countries, general education has shown its limits. It must be recognized that students who have left universities struggle to find work and most of them face unemployment on a daily basis. According to a finding by the International Labor Organization (ILO), “Graduates of higher education on the continent are two to three times more likely to be unemployed than young people who have not continued their education beyond primary school”.
“Vocational training is a real lever for competitiveness and the integration of young people,” said Mr. Said for this continent whose rates of unemployed young people are very high, ranging from 13 to 28%, according to the data. of the International Labor Office (ILO).
Africa would therefore benefit from drawing inspiration from the Chinese and German model with a work-study training system, a means of resolving the problem of youth unemployment.
Nigeria, a country conducive to vocational training According to a report published in 2020 by the NBS (Nigeria Bureau of Statistics), 27% of the working population is unemployed, or 22 million people. This report also indicates that more than a quarter of the working population was unemployed in the second quarter of 2020. Data from the African Development Bank (AfDB) reveals that “the poverty rate in more than half of the 36 states of Nigeria is higher to the national average of 69%. The high poverty rate reflects the rise in unemployment, estimated at 23.1% in 2018, compared to 14.2% in 2016. The low level of skills limits employment opportunities in the formal economy “. These indicators sufficiently show the precariousness of youth hence the need to change the paradigm by directing young people towards vocational training in this most populous country in Africa with more than 214 million inhabitants in 2020 and the leading economy power of the continent in 2016 according to the World Bank.
Jean AMEKOUVO (Responsible for the Employment Office-Lomé)