CLIVE SIACHIYAKO, Lusaka
THE Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) in January this year signed 178 contracts worth K9.9 million for out-of-school youths and informal sector training in different skills.
The contracts were signed with 46 training providers across the country. The training contracts will benefit 4, 165 unskilled out-of-school youth and small and medium entrepreneurs (SME) or informal sector players that need skilling, up-skilling or re-skilling to enhance their productivity, efficiency and material utilisation. The funds for training are proceeds of the Skills Development Fund. The Skills Development Fund (SDF) was established under the Skills Development Levy Act number 46 of 2016 and administered by the Ministry of Higher Education. The Fund is a long-term financing strategy of the technical education, vocational and entrepreneurship training (TEVET) in the country. It promotes collaborations with industry and other stakeholders to improve accountability and transparency. The Fund seeks to lead to the production of relevant and fully skilled graduates through improved infrastructure, recapitalised machinery and equipment, qualified and motivated personnel and enhanced participation of industry in training.
The skills development levy is collected from employers at 0.5 percent of their payroll. The Ministry of Finance collects the levy from the private sector and industry. The levy is payable by employers whose annual turnover is above K800,000 except public service or local government and employers whose annual turnover is below this amount. Then there are also those exempted under the Income Tax Act and ministers. The Skills Development Fund is one of the strategies Government has put in place to increase access to TEVET and improve efficiency and productivity.
Institutions funded included those under the Zambia Correctional Services (skills training section); youth resource centres under the Ministry of Youth and Sport; Ministry of General Education’s skills training centres (schools of continuing education); community-based skills centres; Ministry of Higher Education’s TEVET institutions; private institutions; and faith-based skills training centres that are registered with TEVETA.
The funded training programmes are in poultry management, pig production, fish farming, vegetable production, bee-keeping and goat production. In the construction sector, training programmes funded are carpentry and joinery, bricklaying and plastering, plumbing and sheet metal, power electrical), whereas in the engineering and manufacturing sectors programmes include metal fabrication, automotive mechanics, diesel mechanics, vehicle body maintenance and refinishing, design and fashion and welding.
In the hospitality sector, programmes include food production, wildlife safari guiding, safari driving, canoeing, and camp site construction.
Other funding from the Skills Development Fund went towards TEVET curriculum development and reviews. A total of K5 million was disbursed for the activity by the Ministry of Higher Education. Curricula in different fields are thus being developed and reviewed. These include curricula at diploma, advanced certificate, certificate and trade certificate qualification levels in paramedical, electrical engineering, heavy equipment repair, agriculture mechanics, automotive mechanics, and automotive-electrical.
Curriculum development and reviews in TEVET involves collaboration between TEVETA and industry to foster linkages between training and industry to minimise skills mismatches. Ideally, when different industry actors are part of these processes, curricula will be responsive to labour market needs. As a result the theoretical-practical divide will be narrowed. In terms of training outcomes from graduates, this would be taken care of because learners will be acquainted with modern types of tools or equipment to use to get tasks done through industry-training collaborations.
In line with the e-governance and Smart Zambia Master Plan, the Ministry further disbursed K2 million of the Skills Development Fund towards the TEVET Information Management System (TEVET IMS) to improve learner data management and processing. These processes include learner enrolments, learner demographics, learner progression rate and trainer demographics in relation to learners. The information management system is envisaged to enhance service delivery in the TEVET sector.
The main objectives of the Skills Development Levy and SDF are to provide financial resources for the TEVET sector to help mitigate the enormous challenges of the sector. The proceeds from the levy are expected to play an important role in developing a high quality, sustainable, demand-driven, and equitable TEVET system in the country. The SDF provides for opening equal access to training funds on a competitive basis with due reference to national development priorities. The funding strategy sets a precedent for disbursement modalities towards continuous improvement in the quality and relevance of training in relation to different sectors and Vision 2030 as well as the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) that recognise TEVET’s integral role in attaining their goals. The Skills Development Fund is a strategic component in ensuring a quality and relevant TEVET that increases employability, productivity and efficiency.
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