«Comparative Study and ‘Outcome and Impact’ Analysis of Six Vocational Training Projects in West Africa Synthesis report based on six case ...»
The disadvantage faced by women in the West African labour markets has to do with some cultural beliefs and practices on expectations of particular jobs and roles for women. Therefore, all six programmes should deliberately include advocacy and awareness raising in their programmes an advocacy aspect tailored towards encouraging females to begin to explore male dominated trades and new market opportunities as this will help reduce the saturation of trades like tailoring and knitting mostly dominated by females. This is in addition to exploring more training options for women as well as engaging more female instructors and more women in management.
Acquisition of entrepreneurial and life skills It is good practice to integrate entrepreneurial and life skills in the curriculum of selfemployment oriented training programmes. Achievements have been made in this regard. All partners teach entrepreneurship but often in the way of classroom teaching. Both topics need to be taught in an integrated manner for which many teachers lack methodological know how.
The integration of entrepreneurial and life skills in the curriculum of self-employment oriented training programmes should be done from a gender perspective. There is need for a deliberate focus on female entrepreneurial skills as well as demystifying the myths against male dominated trades.
Quality control, monitoring and evaluation
Three of the six partners conduct tracer studies, the partners in Ghana have good systems of documentation. OICG has developed a well functioning management system for the apprenticeship scheme which can serve as a model to others. The other partners have very weak systems of monitoring and documentation. A general weakness is the use of the monitoring information to steer the projects. Tracer study results are not or not sufficiently used for project/ programme planning. Documentation should be disaggregated by gender.
Conclusion on the indirect impact of vocational training on poverty reduction
It is challenging to attribute one development intervention to the far reaching objective of poverty alleviation. It is even more difficult in the case of VT as it usually targets individuals who come from many places (unless a project targets specific communities such as YOWDAST). In the case of several development actors working in one locality, the impact assessment is further complicated.
Two indirect criteria can be used to assess the indirect impact of VT on poverty reduction:
• the outreach of VT to the poor • the effect of VT on the income situation of individuals and the communities The majority of the VT projects studied reach out to the poor, and the majority of graduates are earning an income with the skills learned. Both are achievements considering the extent of youth underemployment and the labour market situation in the four countries studied. The quantitative outputs (“outreach”) of the 2 non-formal and one of the two apprenticeship schemes have been sufficient, less so for the formal VTI and the other apprenticeship scheme, which are working below capacity.
The study indicates that the net income which the majority of the younger graduates earn, but especially of the females, is not above the poverty level of 2 US$ a day, thus the indirect impact on poverty alleviation on the home communities is limited. However, if thinking in longer term dimensions, as case studies of older graduates showed, vocational skills training is laying a foundation for many to gain a livelihood.
Though the employment rate of women after training is less than as compared to men, the majority of the women employed contribute greatly to their family upkeep and in the community. This therefore means that if female employment can be promoted through
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vocational skills development, there will be visible poverty reduction in families and the communities.
There have been reports from resource persons that poverty has been reduced as an effect of the project interventions (see case study YOWDAST). It was beyond the means of this study to verify these claims, but the teams identified cases where several young people trained from one village improved their economic situation visibly, thus contributing to poverty reduction in their community.
4.3 Lessons learned Factors for success Good quality vocational skill training provides graduates with an advantage over other competitors in the labour market. But quality alone is not the most decisive factor. Market relevance and market linkage, i.e. learning the skills demanded in the market and being exposed to market realities are the most decisive factors for employment. The case of YOWDAST shows that even basic level training can be successful, provided that the skills are marketable and the learner has the ability and possibilities to advance his/ her skills.
Exposure of trainees to the world of work during the training facilitates their integration in the labour market. Well organised attachment to small enterprises is compensating weaknesses of centre based training and often provides opportunities for further learning (apprenticeship) and access to jobs.
The involvement of communities in the training process, beginning with trade selection, selection of trainees and post training support facilitates both, social and economic integration. It also strengthens local ownership of VT projects/ programmes.
Collaboration with businesses enables VT projects/ programmes to better understand markets, to enhance market relevance of curricula and to improve attachment and employment opportunities.
Personality building is very important to prepare trainees for self employment. This applies especially to girls who face many challenges in the labour market.
Vocational skill training is reaching out to youth at a critical age. Especially young men in the urban centres but also young women are exposed to social challenges such as crime and violence, drug abuse and HIV/ Aids. Holistic VT programmes which integrate life skills into the training can address these challenges.
Counselling, even if provided in informal ways, is providing needed moral support to students/ trainees and adds value to vocational skills training programmes as it addresses challenges which young people are facing in a fast changing world.
The effectiveness of improved apprenticeship schemes depends (besides market relevant trade selection) on a close collaboration of the project with enterprises, good selection of master trainers, a joint understanding of the training content and frequent follow-ups.
Although not originally a key focus area of vocational skills development, literacy and numeracy at beginners’ level is providing additional skills to trainees who come to the training
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illiterate; this has brought added value to graduates in terms of their personal dignity and self confidence.
There are various comparative advantages and experiences which the different EED funded programmes/ projects could learn from, e. g. child care (Liberia); tracer study (Ghana);
internship / attachments (Sierra Leone and Ghana), community involvement (Nigeria).
Challenges and unresolved issues
Self-employment in many cases means underemployment, i.e. the graduate can not have a livelihood from the trade income alone. What is gainful and what is acceptable employment for young people in urban and in rural contexts? Their expectations need to be considered when planning VT projects.
Social demand for training and the actual labour market opportunities often do not match.
This applies to both developing and developed labour markets. More inputs are needed to advise applying trainees on market opportunities and trade selection. The challenge is that the VT providers themselves are often not sufficiently informed about labour market demands.
Besides trade skills, graduates need determination, self-initiative, creativity, a sense for responsibility and the ability to tolerate frustration in order to be successful in the market.
Developing these core competences needs good trainers. TOT is expensive and the local capacities (with the exception of VTF) do not exist.
The limited or in most cases absence of post training support mechanisms from the TVET institutions for graduates limits the full utilisation of their potential, e. g. especially female graduates underpaid at work places accept their fate and have no voice to speak for them.
Graduates’ access to micro credit remains a largely unresolved issue. MFIs hesitate to give loans to young business starters unless they have securities, which the vast majority has not.
One option is to initiate saving schemes of graduates, but this is only possible if a VT project closely works with communities.
How important is the counselling in reality? Despite the findings, opinions differ on this issue.
Should training providers invest resources in individual counselling? Or should counselling be an integrated task of teachers and instructors? What about female counsellors and methodological training? Depending on which option (individual or group counselling) a more professional approach to counselling could be of greater benefit to trainees.
There is a debate whether vocational training programmes should include or even focus on married women, as they often have a better idea and motivation to learn and work in a trade.
According to interviews with female graduates, one of the benefits of skills development seems to lie in their improved chances for marriage. Local experts and resource persons see this as a respectable expectation and viable benefit. Africa is a marriage society: No matter the level a woman attains if she is not married she may not be respected. She may be able to survive it if she is educated or has some form of empowerment to boast her self esteem. For the target group of VT (girls who have dropped out of school/ graduated from the secondary education system) with no form of empowerment marriage is the traditional way towards livelihood security. It is also a condition for girls to be regarded in society. So if this programme improves their chances for marriage, then this should be encouraged.
The alternative is to consider married women in (non-formal) training programmes as an additional target group in order to achieve a greater impact – as for instance practiced by YOW-DAST. This organisation has extended the maximum age for women to 40 years.
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5.1 Strategic recommendations Before making strategic recommendations, the results of this study need to be discussed further with the partners. Partners should make strategic decisions on which target group(s) to focus. A key question for consideration is the appropriateness of the VT models for the different contexts.
If VT is to emphasise on poverty reduction, non-formal VT and improved apprenticeship schemes are more appropriate. VT programmes should continue to place emphasis on females but they should address the employment problems of females in a more integrated and holistic manner. Measures should include gender specific personality building, measures for labour market integration (placement services) and lobbying at the level of employers. Precondition is that VT providers cooperate more with the private sector. This recommendation is based on the assumption that males have more training opportunities and better access to on-the-job learning in the informal sector. This may not be the case in some contexts (e.g. in the case of marginalised/ stigmatised male youth, e.g. school drop outs).
Low-cost, community based training solutions are needed to increase the outreach of VT programmes to neglected communities. YOWDAST is an example for a skills training approach suitable for reaching out to remote rural areas. This approach can also be applied by integrated rural development programmes.
5.2 Specific recommendations Labour market orientation and selection of trades Partners need to develop their capacities for conducting simple market surveys and to plan and design training programmes in accordance with labour market demands. Collaboration with private sector should be intensified, as entrepreneurs know best what is needed in the market. Methods should also be developed to involve communities and target groups in the identification of market opportunities.
In many programmes observed it became clear that certain trade areas did not have either the demand or the job relevance, but these trade areas are continuously been taught (e. g. tailoring in Liberia; carpentry in Bo Sierra Leone, etc.). Program managers or their Boards should be able to make decisive choices on trade areas, if the program will continue to maintain its relevance. Tracer studies (see below) should be used as a management tool to monitor the relevance of the training offers.
Partners should expand or broaden building trade areas such that graduates have options to do multiple skills (masonry, carpentry, joinery, electricity, plumbing, etc.) and are therefore not only reliant on a single trade. Single trade as proven in this report, although generating income and employment/ self employment, does not provide a sustainable and adequate in
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come for families. This is also due to the changing needs of the job market, which is predominantly in the informal sector.
Trade diversification is especially important for females. Alongside integration of females in male dominated trade areas (which faces many obstacles in market integration) training providers should place more emphasis on finding new skills areas that are feasible for female employment and income generation. Value addition to agricultural produce is one field that received too little attention. Another is modern fields such as repair of electrical and electronic items including computer maintenance.
Integrating agriculture topics in vocational skills development in rural areas
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood in rural areas. The majority of graduates of rural training centres continue to work in agriculture, often rather by necessity than by choice.