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Govt to recognize informal skills

The government, through the State Department for Technical, Vocational Education, and Training (TVET), has proposed a policy framework that seeks to recognise people with certain skills who lack the necessary academic papers to be identified.

The policy, which is set to be tabled before the Cabinet soon before its gazettement, will then be officially launched in the country on October 6, this year.

The move will see people, especially in the informal sector, who possess exemplary skills (competencies) in areas such as plumping and masonry, among others, being vetted through a procedure that has been established and awarded certificates in a process to be coordinated by the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA).

“This will help them get recognition that can help them thrive in their respective careers and get, for instance, government tenders,” KNQA Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Alice Kande, said.

She said Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process used to identify, assess, and certify a candidate’s competencies regardless of when, where, and how they acquired the skills against prescribed standards or learning outcomes.

The Acting CEO told a RPL Policy Validation Workshop in Naivasha on Wednesday that many people with competencies but lacked formal certification would now be vetted by her organisation and given accreditation, which would help them be recognised.

Dr. Kandie said that so far, they have vetted 400 people who will be given their certification on October 6 after the policy is gazetted.

“We intend to recognise over 10,000 people who have excelled in their competencies in the next three or four months after we certify them using the revised implementation guidelines for RPL and the Differentiated Unit Cost for RPL, which are the tools we are using for the certification,” Kande stated.

The targeted groups mainly include workers in the informal sector who possess exemplary competencies in what they do, migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, and out-of-school youths.

According to the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA), Kenya still faces a severe shortage of quality and relevant skilled workforce due to a mismatch between skills produced and labour market needs, and hence, the gazettement of the RPL policy, which is in line with the government’s Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), will go a long way in empowering these very skilled but disadvantaged sections of the population.

The demographic structure indicates that 92 per cent of Kenyan youths have unrecognised competencies acquired through informal and non-formal means but are not certified to practice them.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), skilled but uncertified individuals are driving Kenya’s economy, which is predominantly informal, with over 83 per cent of the workforce having skills without qualifications.

To this end, the KNQA CEO says the RPL process will be used as a means to redress past inequalities by facilitating mobility, progression, and access within education, training, and career development career paths.

Principal Secretary in the State Department for Technical, Vocational Education, and Training (Tvet), Dr. Esther Muoria, who addressed the event through an online platform, welcomed the policy and urged all stakeholders to use it to work collectively and synergistically towards changing the lives of many disadvantaged Kenyans, including the highly skilled workers in the Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), unemployed people, refugees, and migrants, to live decent livelihoods.

“The revised RPL policy framework, the revised implementation guidelines for RPL, and the Differentiated Unit Cost for RPL are not just documents; they serve as the bedrock upon which we will establish an inclusive, accessible, and efficient TVET system,” the PS said.

She noted that the aim of her department “is to create a system where everyone’s skills and competencies are recognised and valued, regardless of their background or educational journey. The documents we are validating today hold more significance than pieces of paper; they serve as the guiding plans for a brighter future”.

“I therefore urge all stakeholders to work together on raising awareness and promoting it (RPL) widely. We must make a concerted effort to create awareness about RPL and its numerous benefits among all stakeholders, including learners, employers, training providers, and the general public. The more people comprehend the value of RPL, the wider its adoption will be,” Dr. Muoria stated.

By Mabel Keya-Shikuku 

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