“IT TAKES a village to raise a child,” an African idiom says. It entails collaborative steps for the common good. Skills development is one area that requires stakeholders to find ways to increase access to training, narrowing skills gaps and mismatches between training and industry.
In many cases, educators and players in the industry operate in parallel universes – each doing their thing without sharing experiences, skills, knowledge and resources (human and financial resources) to ensure graduates meet the quality expected of them by the industry. Part of the solution to skills gaps and mismatches lies in bringing those in training and users of skills (industry) together to shape the way forward.
Collaborations among stakeholders for improved education and skills are needed for enhanced quality training in adequate quantities. In view of the above, Government and different industry players signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to create robust training ecosystems to ensure graduates possess desirable skills and competences.
Parties to the agreement include ministries of Higher Education; Labour and Social Security; and Youth and Sport; Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE); Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA); Youth Bridge Foundation; and World Skills Zambia.
The objectives of the agreement are to develop a standardised framework for internships and industrial student attachments; an outline for lecturers’ industrial exposure and private sector involvement in skills training delivery; a funding mechanism that includes options for private sector incentives and alternative methods of dealing with the issue of the stipend in skills development.
Other objectives are to develop a robust information system that provides necessary information and feedback to stakeholders to ensure relevance of curriculum, responsive training institutions and a proactive and engaged private sector.
The rest of the objectives are the development of awareness campaign strategies for youths participating in internship and student attachment programmes; developing mechanisms that ensure enhanced co-ordination and engagements aimed at reducing levels of fragmentation in skills development initiatives or programmes in the country; and reviewing or amending any policy, laws and institutional measures deemed necessary to enhance skills development.
Each party to the agreement will derive benefits related to their mandates. The Ministry of Higher Education will benefit from enhanced contribution and involvement of various stakeholders in the provision of technical and vocational education and training, especially from the private sector.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s benefits will be through strengthened labour market information and efforts in enhancing employability and productivity of graduates. The Youth and Sport ministry is interested in enhanced employability of the youth through both formal and informal training pathways and through self-employment arising from skills and entrepreneurship training.
ZFE will benefit by taking national apprenticeship and internship programmes to scale. Its members will draw value from improved productivity of young graduates and employees. TEVETA’s benefits will be by having private sector participation in curriculum review, industry taking in learners through internships and workplace learning and exposure through attachment programmes.
When it comes to Youth Bridge Foundation, the collaboration will boost its advocacy for youth rights, especially regarding employment opportunities and budget allocation for education and training. World Skills Zambia aims to stimulate greater interest in technical skills by young people through the promotion of skills competitions at various levels. The partnership offers access to stakeholders, especially training institutions and the private sector.
The collaborative agreement is anchored at the Private Sector Development, Industrialisation and Job Creation (PSDIJC) office at Cabinet Office. The agreement emphasises that parties should do their best in harnessing training in technical, vocational and entrepreneurship, which are pillars for creating wealth and employment from the country’s natural resource endowments.
The agreement, inter alia, seeks to align and realign training funds realisable from the skills development levy towards skilling required numbers and quality of skilled persons Zambia needs to attain its visions such as Seventh National Development Plan, Vision 2030 and Vision 2064 and other short and medium-term national goals.
Skills are cardinal in reducing household poverty, generating ideas that help society create wealth and jobs (self and salaried), increase productivity, and produce quality goods and services that are more competitive.
Without sustained funding and strategic investment of proceeds towards training materials and equipment, Zambia’s many opportunities would remain the preserve of foreigners and few Zambians who have the ability to critically think and skilfully apply themselves in providing solutions to people’s problems.
Thus, the agreement by the above stakeholders offers spaces to discuss emerging issues across players to recreate the common vision. Industry represented by the Federation of Employers will bring out education and training lapses to the attention of mandated parties.
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