In many developing countries, access to quality educational systems and training programmes is not adequate to meet new demands and address technological, social and environmental challenges. Uncoordinated dialogue between Governments and national and international private companies impacts the development and sustainability of a modern technical and vocational education training (TVET) system. In addition, poor collaboration between the private sector and TVET institutions often hampers their ability to provide programmes and curricula that meet market needs and future skill requirements. Moreover, limited financial investments and corporate commitment result in mistrust for an outdated TVET system that does not influence the job market. As a result, young people do not recognize the value of TVET as a driver for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship that promotes inclusive and sustainable growth and supports transitions to digital and green economies.
Towards a Solution
In line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) collaborates with public, private and development partners to design and scale up training centres in order to fill the skills gap in developing countries through the Learning and Knowledge Development Facility (LKDF). The innovative training and curricula equip young students with the demand-driven, future skills required to seize the opportunities created by technological progress (SDG 4 on quality education and SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure). To date, UNIDO has collaborated with over 40 partners to establish and upgrade approximately 15 training centres in Ethiopia, Iraq, Liberia, Morocco, Uruguay and Zambia, with a yearly intake of 100 to 500 students and 20 to 100 trainers per TVET centre. As a result of these projects, female participation in male-dominated sectors has reached 35 percent, and 60 percent of trainees have found a better job.
Through public-private development partnerships, UNIDO and its partners1 develop curricula and establish, maintain, and upgrade training centres. Governments receive assistance to evaluate their TVET system and identify financial and human capacity requirements, linkages and gaps with the private sector. Contributions received from public and private donors are used to offer training services that meet international standards and market needs. Private companies connect with Governments to learn about the local context and identify the skills needed to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of their businesses. In addition, students acquire needed skills and learn about job content and work readiness.
One example is the MISALE project2 in Ethiopia. In 2017, the Training Institute for Commercial Vehicle Drivers was established in Ethiopia to create jobs in commercial vehicle driving and address the shortage of skilled labour for transport enterprises. The training academy provides a five-year training programme for 40 regular trainees annually. It also provides short-term modular trainings for approximately 480 drivers from various companies. Stakeholders from the private sector work together to formulate the curriculum according to their needs, while the Government develops the regulations and certifications for the trainers and students. The collaborative model and experience gained, particularly in management, is then shared with other schools, which contributes to improving the quality of TVET in Ethiopia.
The LKDF offers systematic monitoring and evaluation to track results by collecting, storing and analysing data on trainees. A key feature of this system is that information is shared between the LKDF and the programmes. The latter submit biannual reports and midterm evaluations and measure return on investment. The LKDF is responsible for project and country baseline reports, field visit reports and midterm and final evaluations. It evaluates the programmes’ scale and sustainability in terms of results-based learning and knowledge development to measure their contributions to reducing youth unemployment. The Facility also provides transparent data that demonstrate the programmes’ cost-effectiveness and justify expansions into other countries or sectors.
The LKDF knowledge-sharing component helps to ensure scalability and cross-country transfer of knowledge and good practices. For example, the Heavy-Duty Equipment and Commercial Vehicles Academy established in Morocco, in partnership with Volvo, was able to extend its training programme to 600 students from Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Senegal. UNIDO counterparts in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal coordinated with the local private sector to recruit students. Partners designed integrated career support services to help trainees better define their professional objectives and supported graduates in their job search. The Academy facilitated over 500 internships with more than 62 host companies.
UNIDO has also improved regional collaboration on forestry and wood industry education in the Southern African Development Community, which has led to green employment and sustainable forest management and use. Trainings were piloted in South Africa with the goal of replicating them in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Other projects, such as the Zambian Industrial Training Academy (ZAMITA) as well as the H20 Maghreb training hub in Morocco, rely on innovations to improve training effectiveness and competitive advantages. ZAMITA employs simulators of the latest engine technology and Euro 6 emission trucks. It also uses digital learning tools to ensure the appropriate level of competency. The project has already increased employability for over 450 students in the transport and heavy equipment sector, with a focus on women and disadvantaged individuals. Its collaborative approach increased private sector involvement; an additional six partners have entered into memoranda of understanding with a career service centre to guarantee a supply of skilled labour. Due to the success of the Academy, a similar project was developed in Liberia. Similarly, the H20 Maghreb project provides curricula that combine theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience using virtual reality and automation technology. H20 Maghreb prepares water professionals to respond to complex needs across municipalities, industries and the agricultural sector. The project has now entered its second phase, with plans to replicate it across the Maghreb region.