Leveraging TVET in the knowledge and skills ecosystem for Africa’s industrialization

Introduction and Background

Postsecondary TVET is one of the strategic pillars of the PASET initiative. According to UNESCO, TVET refers to “aspects of the educational process involving, in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences as well as the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding, and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economics and social life.”1 TVET contributes to the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) and SDG8 for “decent work and economic growth.” The important role that TVET plays in the acquisition of employment-oriented skills for sustainable livelihoods and national economic growth has been documented in several publications of UNESCO and the African Union, among others.2

At the February 2023 CAG meeting in Kigali, it was agreed by both the PASET Executive Board and the Governing Council that the theme of the 6th PASET Forum should project the importance of TVET in the socioeconomic development of Africa. “Leveraging TVET in the knowledge and skills ecosystem for Africa’s industrialization” was unanimously approved as the theme for the 6th PASET Forum. Industrialisation has a positive corelation with national wealth creation.3 Several factors inhibit the drive towards industrialization. Industry cannot grow without access to raw materials, markets for finished products, sources of capital and access to technology. Other inhibiting factors include poor infrastructure, access to energy at affordable cost, transport and logistics, and punitive tax regimes.

However, the greatest drag on industrialization is the absence of qualified and competent technical human resource. A technically skilled workforce is a pre-requisite for sustained industrialization. The path to industrialization followed by many countries, including Brazil, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and China and the role played by TVET have been well documented.4 Africa can learn from the experiences of these countries.5 TVET at the postsecondary or tertiary level holds the promise of producing graduates imbued with high level skills to support the industrialization of Africa. As natural-resource poor countries like South Korea and Singapore have demonstrated, high level skills and not natural resources are the key drivers of economic growth.

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