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RVNP sends trainees to Israel, UK for Industrial attachment

The Rift Valley National Polytechnic (RVNP) has worked out partnerships with several firms in the United Kingdom and Israel aimed at equipping its students with hands-on skills in an industry setting during their time of study.

The institute’s Principal Mr Sammy Chemoiwo indicated that the venture was geared towards bridging the skills gap among the students by ensuring they spend at least 30 percent of their training working with relevant industries in the two countries.

While disclosing that five of RVNP’s students would be proceeding to the United Kingdom for a three-month industrial attachment program in various industries while two others were headed to Israel for a one-year internship program, Mr. Chemoiwo indicated that the institution was exploring a model where students are subjected to the combination of theory and practical training, in a real-life work environment through an interchange of training at RVNP and companies locally and abroad.

“Strengthening the collaborative linkages between our institution and the private sector both locally and internationally is one of the most effective ways of catalyzing social-economy development and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are aligning our curriculum and programs toward creating an inclusive, equitable, and quality education that promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all. We are specifically focusing on SDG 4 and 8, which deal with quality education, decent jobs, and economic growth for all,” he explained.

Mr Chemoiwo noted that through the partnerships with the firms in Israel and the United Kingdom, the students will be exposed to the real world of industry and business.

Speaking to Kenya News Agency in his office, the principal pointed out that close links between enterprises and training centers have been at the core of the Western World’s economic success since the 19th century.

The private sector, he noted, contributes over 70 percent of formal employment but in some cases, they struggle to find candidates due to a mismatch between the courses offered in TVET institutions and National polytechnics.

Mr Chemoiwo was flanked by his Deputies Lincoln Langat and Paul Komen who are in charge of Academics and Administration respectively.

Previously known as Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology (RVIST), RVNP was one of the 13 Technical and Vocational Colleges elevated to National Polytechnic status to enhance access to higher education.

The resolution followed a Cabinet meeting held last month at the Kakamega State Lodge and chaired by President William Ruto.

“The action by Cabinet is pursuant to the principles set out in Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2005: A Framework for Education, Training, and Research, which establishes a pathway for upward mobility of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates,” a dispatch released after the meeting read in part.

The policy framework requires that at least one National Polytechnic is established in each county and a TVET institution in every constituency.

The elevated institutions also include Maasai Technical Training Institute, Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology Coast Institute of Technology, Tseikuru Technical and Training College, and Sang’alo Institute of Science and Technology.

Others are Bureti Technical Vocational College, Jeremiah Nyagah Technical Training Institute, Mawego Technical Training Institute, and Baringo Technical Training Institute.

Mr Chemoiwo observed that the National Government had rolled out new technical and vocational courses as it began to implement the Competence-Based Education and Training (CBET) policy framework aimed at delivering industry-responsive skills.

He stated that the world over the labour market was transiting from theoretical expertise to practical-based skills adding that a growing number of Kenyans with good academic qualifications were unemployed because of a mismatch of skills and career choices.

Mr Chemoiwo said as the world moves to the industrial and technological revolution, the National Polytechnic will retool its curriculum to align with the current and future industrial needs.

He stated that reengineering training would provide trainers and trainees with the in-demand skills needed by employers to thrive in their businesses.

“The rapid change in technology and industrial revolution requires us to retool, rescale, remodify our training to be able to meet the demand of the required skills in the industry,” he added.

According to Mr Chemoiwo, the new skills set for the future world of work can be identified through research and analysis of trends in skills requirements adding that RVNP will retool its curriculum to reflect the needs of the market.

The principal noted that aligning training with industrial needs can have a ripple effect on the economy because businesses are likely to expand and create new jobs if they are able to find the talents they need.

“Skills that are acquired through National Polytechnics and Technical Vocational Education Training Institutes (TVET) can provide solutions to society, and improve national development, food security, and other spheres of life.

We expect to see our teaching staff and students producing research papers looking into the skills required in the future and the labor market trends,” he added.

Further, Mr Chemoiwo mentioned that equipping trainers and training with current knowledge on the effects of industrialization on climate change would promote the creation of ‘green’ jobs to reduce pollution in the environment.

“We should ask ourselves what aspects of our training look into the future in regard to conservation of the environment so that regardless of your field of training, you’re conscious of the environment,” said the principal.

He added that the aspect of greening is not about trees alone but also looking at the whole sphere including reducing the use of fossil fuels, and embracing renewable energy and skills we’re providing should help students contribute to environment conservation.

Mr Chemoiwo challenged parents to champion courses offered by TVETS and national polytechnics to help their children acquire relevant skills favourable to the local and international labour markets adding that technical training plays a vital role in strengthening the country’s economy.

He indicated that parents should now focus more on courses offered in vocational training centers and argued that technical and vocational training holds the answer to economic challenges such as unemployment.

“The strength and future of a country’s economy depends on two major factors, skills of its manpower and production which comes from it. This can only be achieved through TVET and national polytechnics, as it is the masterpiece to alleviate poverty and usher in growth,” he said.

The principal pointed out that Sustainable development involves working with what available resources have in mind the future generations. He added that RVNP’s training will ensure that its curriculum and culture are re-engineered towards attaining Sustainable development.

Deputy Principal in charge of Academics Mr Langat said the institute would partner with other stakeholders to further research and innovations by commercializing the innovation projects to provide value.

He said Research and Innovation are key in providing solutions to the country’s problems and more so key drivers in attaining fourth and eighth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The importance of TVET and national polytechnics in SDGs is emphasized on attaining quality education that equips students with lifelong skills to enable them to secure decent jobs,” said Mr Langat.

The Deputy Principal added that the institution has sufficient infrastructure and personnel for the upgrade.

He said the college which was established in 1979 with the support of former President Daniel Moi also has sufficient land for expansion to allow a higher intake of Technical and Vocational Education Training students.

He revealed that with major shifts in the labour market towards practical-based skills there was a need to satisfy these demands by having more youths in technical Institutions.

“Africa’s leap to new industrialized status is being hampered by overemphasis on University Education as opposed to the acquisition of technical skills,” observed Mr Langat when he led students and staff in a tree planting event in remembrance of road accident victims.

“There is a skill mismatch that needs to be addressed through technical training and not only awarding theoretical degrees,” he said.

On climate change, Deputy Principal in charge of Administration Mr Komen said the institution had planted more than 10, 000 trees through a Public-Private sector partnership aimed at driving sustainability and increasing the country’s forest cover.

He observed that vocational education prepared students for specific jobs and that this was available in schools and colleges with special and specific training, adding that the institutions will start admitting students from across the country.

“Technical training makes people skilled so that they may be able to handle machinery properly. Technical education makes you an expert in certain domains of life. There are certain jobs that cannot be performed well unless you have technical education,” he said.

Mr Komen added that the labor market was shifting from employment to skills and practical-based and polytechnics were not meant for failures, but for those who wanted to gain skills, create things and create employment.

By Anne Mwale and Dennis Rasto

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