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How Technical and Vocational Education Can Help Close Skills Gaps in Africa

Research Paper

Issued on the occasion of The Africa Roundtable “The Path to Success: Education, Skills, and Leadership,” November 2023, Berlin

How Technical and Vocational Education Can Help Close Skills Gaps in Africa

November 16, 2023

One-fifth of the global population under the age of 25 lives in Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s youngest region. Africa’s working-age population is expected to reach 600 million in 2030, with a youth share of 37 percent — larger than that of China. With the right education and training, coupled with well-defined national development strategies and employment policies, Africa’s large and fast-growing youth population could be a great asset for development and provide a comparative advantage in world markets. Instead, the unemployment rate across Africa is alarming, with youth unemployment (11.2 percent) almost twice as high as the adult unemployment rate (6.7 percent). This paper focusses on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as one part of the solution. It presents best practices from Europe and Africa and gives recommendations on improving TVET on the African continent.

While progress has been made in expanding educational access across Africa, the quality and relevance of education often remain insufficient to prepare the youth for the job market. This disconnect between the curriculum and educational resources and labor market demands has led to major skills mismatches. There is an oversupply of graduates specializing in fields not in high demand by employers and industries.

Skills Gap Causes

  • Limited access to quality education

    Education systems offer inadequate access to materials, limited internet connectivity, substandard course content, and inconsistent policy implementation. Additionally, school programs tend to focus heavily on examinations rather than practical skills, neglecting important soft skills valued by employers.

  • Weak public / private interfaces

    Industry players are not involved in the development of curricula to advise on the skillsets demanded by the industry to drive economic growth.

  • Weak teacher training systems

    Outdated or substandard curricula and assessment methods in teacher training institutions present challenges in preparing young people for the labor market.

  • Inadequate career guidance for young people

    Poor implementation and a lack of coordination in African schools limit the impact of effective career guidance young people.

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