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Infrastructure development inclusivity valuable in individual, national achievement
Posted on 9 November, 2017 17:7
African Development Bank (ADB) Resident Representative, Damoni Kitabire said inclusiveness in infrastructure development is vital in achieving individual, national, and global benefits expected from increased employment, particularly for the youth. And former Minister of General Education Dr. John Phiri said meeting sustainable development goals (SDGs) could be largely achieved by skills development being on the fore to help stakeholders work together in mapping SDGs targets and apt skills to achieve them. In a key note speech towards the 2016 World Youth Skills Day Commemoration themed “Skills for Inclusive Sustainable Development,” Mr. Kitabire added that ADB recognised that skills development remains critical in addressing the shortage of scientists and engineers required in the development of infrastructure in all sectors and to drive the creation of jobs and poverty reduction on the continent, particularly among youth and women. It has been estimated that lowering the youth unemployment rate would translate to a 10 to 20% increase in Africa’s gross development product (GDP). Conversely, a lack of action has consequences: that is, it is estimated that 40% of people who join rebel and extremist movements are motivated by lack of economic opportunity, which is usually underpinned by the lack of relevant skills. While Africa’s economic growth remains positive, there is an urgent need to promote skills development and inclusive economic transformation as well as jobs-induced growth to improve the quality of life for all Africans. Africa’s youth population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. If properly harnessed and given the appropriate skills, this increase in the working age population could support increased productivity and stronger, more inclusive and sustainable economic growth across the continent It is observed that workers in manufacturing, construction, and mining often lack moderate technical skills required for advanced manufacturing, new energy technologies, and life sciences. In addition, industrial sub-sectors compete against one another to secure limited human resources and talent. Despite gains in education access over the past several decades, youth often do not have the skills required by employers, even when jobs are available. Women are particularly impacted, often facing even greater barriers to accessing opportunities. The policy paper was revised in 1999 and adopted a more holistic approach in the development of the education sector, while the emphasis continued to be placed on basic education, secondary and TVET. Currently the Bank has developed three major strategies, which support skills development and inclusive growth in Africa. These are the Bank’s Human Capital Strategy; the Bank’s 2013 – 2022 Strategy, which has “Skills and Technology” as one of its pillars; and the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, which was approved in May 2016. The Bank has stepped up its support in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to produce the necessary scientists and engineers to serve infrastructure needs such as roads, transport, energy, water etc. To this end, the Bank is supporting the Science and Technology Education Project in Zambia as well as a conglomeration of Centers of Excellence in ICT [Carnegie Mellon University Rwanda and Pan African University (PAU) – Kenya]; Water and Energy sciences [2iE Water Institute in Burkina Faso and PAU Algeria]; Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences [PAU Cameroon]; Life and Earth Sciences including Health and Agriculture [PAU- Nigeria]; as well as Biomedical Sciences (Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania). The ADB also implements various projects to support Agricultural transformation through skills development and agricultural research. These include “The support to youth employment in job creating sectors in Togo approved in 2015”, which will (i) include a skills needs assessment in agro-industry, leading to curriculum development; (ii) support pilot vocational training centers; (iii) support to SMEs spearheaded by youth in the agricultural value chain; and (iv) support for the certification of the agro-industry product quality by strengthening the Agricultural Research Institute. We are happy to inform you that the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (2016-2025) would provide urgently needed support on skills development combined with apprenticeship and internship programs in both the private and public sector, as well as in the informal economy. These activities would help to integrate youth into the economy. The Enabling Youth Employment Index designed under the Strategy would develop a consistent framework for discussing youth employment outcomes and policies, highlighting successful policy approaches for job creation and skills development to be emulated across countries. “You may wish to note that a number of flagship programmes have been developed under Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, which aims at creating 25 million jobs and 50 million economic opportunities in the next decade, with a major focus on skills development for the youth. The ENABLE Youth (Empowering Novel Agri-Business Led Employment) program is supporting the incubation of new larger scale agri-businesses as well as access to finance for growth of these businesses. The program focuses on creating an enabling environment for young “agripreneurs” by fostering public and private partnerships, supporting policy dialogue, and developing a risk-sharing facility to increase access to finance. The target youth are skilled tertiary graduates, irrespective of discipline. The young agripreneurs will develop skills in all aspects of the commodity value chains promoted under the national agricultural transformation agenda. The skills include modern production techniques, commodity marketing, value added processing, export opportunities, supplies and equipment leasing. ENABLE Youth will leverage from the existing experience of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and lessons learnt during design and implementation. Upon the completion of their training, the agripreneurs (either as individuals or in partnerships) will develop bankable proposals of their planned business projects and apply for loans,” he summed up. And Dr. Phiri added that questions can be asked: a) what skills are needed for each SDG b) do we have them c) how can we have them and develop systems for the youths to be trained in them. “Try-a-skill component of WorldSkills, although in its formative stage will help answer some of these questions and avert youth career related problems.” He stressed that youths skills training and employment was pertinent to the country especially in addressing unemployment and connecting the two ministries of education (through Vocational Education and Training school) in seeking harnessing early productivity abilities development in youths. Meanwhile, from the WorldSkills International’s view, the President Simon Bartley felt that the solution for Zambia in skills is grounded and based in Zambia, thus pledging that WorldSkills International would look for a representative on African skills projects from within the content Bartley argued that for every economy, industry and employer needed a blend of skills and to increase efficiency and productive. “Those in business know that a blend of skills is vital in sustaining the business. You cannot run an economy where everyone has a PHD or masters. The belief that obtaining a degree translates into a level of success is a fallacy especially in countries endowed with natural resources that require convention into salable products.” He contended that running a business with one skills level makes it hard to sustain the economy compared to having a blend of them for varied understanding and pursuing of economic goals with a broader mind and action plans. “If parents continue sending their children to be lawyers, accountants and neglecting technical, vocational education and training (TVET); the economy will be crippled as artisans, technicians and technologists are the builders of economies. Bartley further argued that for Zambia to have a successful economy; its philosophy of education should be discontinued and starting investing in TVET. “Besides copper and tourism; Zambia has enthusiastic young people who want to be skilled and build the national in attaining its goals. Parents and teachers are the ones who narrow what young people want to do; they orient them towards white collar jobs that are in extreme supply. Be open and give the youth opportunities to pursue what they are good at, want and talented to do. I implore Zambia for seeking to make the youths a commodity in national development through skilling.” “Skills lead to employment or self-employment; if you have a skill you can sell your labour to make money. Self-employment and entrepreneurship are getting the larger drivers of economic development through wealth creation and tax contribution. We need new skills that create wealth and jobs for us to meet SDGs. Thus skills that lead to employment and job creation are important. There is need to invest more in skills so that those skills engage more people to make more money for the economy. Competitions in skills can help sharpen human capital efficient and improve productivity at person, company and national levels” hinted Bartley. Meanwhile, WorldSkills South Africa Delegate Dr. Raymond Patel emphasised that WorldSkills was not only about competition, but about innovation and working together to find solutions in life. “Skills are the biggest engine for national development and it requires systemic nurturing and shape to meeting societal needs. We need to compete to improve societal problems and meeting job market requirements today and tomorrow.” Dr. Patel added that the idea of skills competition was meant to create synergies to work together in addressing problematic aspects in societies as well as to stimulate human capital growth to compete in attracting investment, wealth creation and jobs and create collaborations between government and business. “To become a productive manufacturing economy we need to work with our hands and stop demeaning working using our hands in preference to white collar jobs. We have to start developing in our own territories; nurture and grow drivers of national development, use different windows to promote skills development and create linkages with different industry players” he hinted.

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