Zambia has experienced a rapid decline in the performance of its economy since the mid 1970s. This had seriously affected its ability to generate employment opportunities for its labour force. This situation has further been worsened by the rapid growth of its labour force, which is at present about three million five hundred thousand (3,500,000) people. The increase in the labour force is as a result of high population growth rate of 3.3% per annum.
The failure to generate employment opportunities has also been worsened by the inability of the formal sector to absorb this increasing number of job seekers and the lack of financial and institutional structures to support self-employment for those with skills to enter the formal sector. Most industries that have in the past employed in school leavers and graduates from technical education and vocational training colleges have either scaled down their operations or closed down. The new industries that have been established have not contributed significantly to the generation of employment opportunities.
The existing institutions that provide technical education and vocational training and those that promote the generation of employment do not have the ability and resources to adequately offer skills to the large number of unemployed to enable them enter the productive sector. Of particular concern is the problem of large numbers of youth, about two hundred thousand (200,000) per annum, leaving the school system without any opportunities for acquiring skills for a productive life.
In addition, the employment sector has not been completely satisfied with the quality of trained manpower available for the various operations in the industries that require vocational skills. This has been worsened by the inadequate resources available in institutions that offer vocational training to sustain high-level training and meet the expected standards of the employment sector.
The Government has therefore identified the need to formulate a broader national policy on technical education and vocational training. The aim of the policy is to improve technical education and vocational training and link it to the requirements of the employment sector. The new policy is broader in three aspects. First, it incorporates entrepreneurship development. For this reason, the Policy will be known as the technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) policy. Second, the new policy encompasses all types of technical education and vocational training like nursing, agriculture, community development and engineering. Third, it covers training being conducted at all levels in both the formal and informal sector.