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Government launches a framework to improve apprenticeships, internships and industrial attachments
November 15, 2019 at 14:5

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Productive employment plays a central role in the economic and social integration of the youth. However, the youth continue to face difficulties in transitioning into labour markets mainly due to skills mismatches and gaps that weaken their employability. In this regard, Government has launched a Work Based Learning (WBL) framework to enhance quality education and acquisition of skills required by the labour market. The framework and guidelines were developed by line ministries, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other stakeholders to ensure TEVET and university graduates acquire appropriate skills that increase their employability in the industry. The objective of the framework is to advance economic and livelihoods development by establishing a robust, coordinated, effective, sustainable and relevance guidelines into education and training in relation to current circumstances and future national development trajectory. It links skills to productivity, employment and development through coherence collaboration with ministries responsible for labour, youth and other line ministries, employers and workers’ organizations and training providers.

Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Brian Mushimba, who launched the framework highlighted the importance of quality training and skills to stimulate productivity and economic development the country aspires. Speaking through the Permanent Secretary Kayula Siame, Dr. Mushimba said the youth faced challenges in finding employment and the work-based learning framework provided a system to gain industry experience and get absorbed in the job market smoothly. “The skills provide opportunities for self-employment and finding employment in the job market. Those without skills have more challenges in finding employment and run enterprises in the knowledge economy. The work-based learning framework offers an opportunity to acquire and formalize skills acquired both in the formal and informal sectors of the economy. Many young people will find spaces to work, earn income and acquire nationally recognized skills. This will address skills mismatches through targeted skills training in workplaces.”

The Minister said the framework provides requisite guidelines for effective implement of skills demand required in the economy. It is also an interface between the Zambia qualification framework and workplace training in the formal and informal sectors including through apprenticeships, internships and industrial attachments.

“Government is already implementing some of work-based learning framework aspects such as TEVET Learnership, internships and ILO supported decent jobs for rural young people. The framework is an integral part of improved industry and training institutions collaborations in developing quality and relevant skills in the country. It is a tool to develop different skills the country requires to stimulate productivity and remain competitive. With the framework being launched, heads of different companies will be engaged over the implementation of different aspects of the work-based learning framework.”

And ILO George Okutho said the organisation promotes access to education and skills training and smooth transition into the world of work in relation to the 7NDP, which seeks national transformation supported by productive workforce to enhance productivity and competitiveness. “The issue of quality and relevance of education and skills training are important in improving employability of learners to narrow skills mismatch and gaps. The world of work is tremendously changing; thus, learners should acquire relevant soft skills that are critical in improving their employability. Soft skills are often not acquired in training institutions, that is where work-based learning comes in to improve employability by according people soft skills more required in the world of work.” Dr. Okutho said the WBL framework required a legal framework and guidelines to implement apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning to ensure skills acquired in workplaces were recognized. “This framework provides guidelines on how the recognition of learning that happens in workplaces. Work-based learning will provide employers with young talent and trainees will have a feel of the world of work; a combination that makes workplaces more meaningful in skills development.”

Meanwhile, Zambia Federation of Employers Vice President Myra Ngoma stated that the launch of WBL framework was actualizing the aspirations of the federation to improve collaboration between training and industry to narrow skills mismatches and gaps. Mr. Ngoma said the framework would improve the skills profile in the country by utilizing apprenticeships, internships and industrial attachments for both learners and trainers. “It provides for both lecturers and students having access to industry and addressing fragmentation in skills development. This collaboration is critical in quality and effective skills development. The framework is a steppingstone in bridging the gap between the 1965 Apprenticeship Act to align it to the Work Based Learning Framework. ZFE is engaging its members on how to enhance apprenticeships. Companies that are members of the ZFE have provided issues that hinder them engage interns and apprentices. The work-based learning framework guidelines will harmonize labour laws concerning the engagement in internships and apprenticeships. The ZFE further made submissions on how the Skills Development Fund can hasten the actualizing the Work Based Learning Framework.”

Zambia Congress of Trade Union Deputy Secretary Elaston Ndlovu added that the framework was adding value to skills development as it would help address skills mismatches and gaps between training and industry. “Implementing guidelines of this framework will improve productivity and smooth transition into the world of work in line with changing labour market changes. Skills training should be linked to sectoral skills needs using systems such as the Work Based Learning Framework.” He said skills were cardinal in reducing family poverty and lead to quality jobs and wealth creation hence the organisation was committed to provide labour market information that address employability among people who face serious challenges in finding jobs and business opportunities in the world of work.

The work-based learning framework embeds key aspects consistency with the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) and Vision 2030 such as relevance and effectiveness of education and skills training. The Work-Based Learning Framework provided collaborative platforms for different stakeholders in developing it to enhance human capital and transition into the world of work. It provides a basis to harness opportunities for quality skills and industrial attachments, apprenticeships and internships. ILO provided financial and technical support in the development of the framework.