Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof George Magoha has called for strengthening of Vocational and Technical Training in the country to reposition the sector as a key player in economic development.
The sector, he said, was critical in addressing rising unemployment in the country through offering specially tailored programmes to address various needs and challenges.
Magoha said the demand for plumbers, electricians, technicians and artisans was rising, challenging learners to take advantage of the demand and acquire the necessary skills to fill up the gaps.
The CS blamed the shortage of workers in the cadres to a perception by Kenyans that some jobs were superior to others.
“We must tell our people that every job is important. At TVET institutions, you can develop skills that can address an existing problem in the community and in turn secure employment,” said the CS.
Speaking at Kisumu National Polytechnic during the 9th Graduation Ceremony, Magoha challenged TVET institutions to develop industry oriented programmes to address the gaps and ensure graduates secure jobs.
The Competency Based Education Training (CBET) rolled out at the institutions, he added was key in preparing learners for the needs of the industry adding that through the new system, more TVET graduands were set to secure jobs.
“We must move away from the examination oriented system and impart skills in our learners to ensure that they are competent to face the work environment,” he said.
Speaking during the same occasion, State Department for Vocational and Technical Training (VTT) Principal Secretary, (PS), Dr Margaret Mwakima, said enrollment at TVET institutions increased from 55,945 in 2013 to 249,316 in 2021.
She attributed the increase to the government’s commitment to grow the sector with the number of institutions increased from 52 in 2013 to 238 in 2021 at a cost of Sh10.6 billion.
The Sh10.3 billion capitation and the Sh11.1 billion Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) for students, she added, has renewed interest at TVET institutions.
The government, she added, has rolled out an annual Sh2 billion conditional grant to Vocational Training Colleges (VTCs) to boost enrollment.
The money which is being channeled directly to the counties, she added, will ensure the institutions offer standard and quality programmes to benefit youths across the country.
Plans, she said, were underway to recruit 3,000 TVET trainers to address the existing gap and ensure that the institutions play a critical role in national development.
“There is a need to train a critical mass of technologists, technicians and artisans in TVET institutions to achieve aspirations in social economic growth of the country. Therefore, TVET institutions are expected to design programmes to bridge identified skill gaps in the dynamic industry,” she said.
Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang Nyong’o, asked the government to stop conversion of TVET institutions into universities.
The institutions, he added, play a critical role in addressing various skills gaps in the country adding that his county government has embarked on expansion of VTCs to boost enrollment.
“In the financial year 2020-2021, we have established six VTCs bringing the total to 26. We are supporting needy learners with bursaries and scholarships to join the institutions,” he said.
The County Government, he disclosed, has disbursed Sh205 million this financial year to support needy students at the institutions. 3,781 students at the polytechnic were awarded with certificates and diplomas in various fields.
Kisumu National Polytechnic Chief Principal, Catherine Kelonye, said the institution has developed quality industry driven courses which has seen enrollment shoot from 5, 000 in 2018 to 10,000 in 2021.
She lauded the support from various industries in the area which has helped to mold the programmes making the institution’s graduates competitive at the job market.
By Chris Mahandara and Francis Ochieng