Minister NyaLonje calls for increased access to vocational skills development
Minister of Labour, Agnes NyaLonje, has called for increased access to Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training (TEVET), adding “failure to do so limits Malawi’s chances of realizing her 2063 Vision (MW2023)”.
NyaLonje has, therefore, asked stakeholders to, among others, further enhance the training of more youths in entrepreneurship as part of TEVET programs and increase financing for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise development.
She made the sentiments in Lilongwe when opening a two-day first ever National TEVET Conference organized by the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TEVETA), which brought together scores of TEVET providers, policy makers, industry experts, artisans, students and development partners, among other stakeholders.
Her remarks come in view of TEVETA data which show that in 2022, for instance, out of 86,477 students that passed Malawi School Certificate of Education, only 14,473 accessed formal TEVET, meaning that a large number of MSCE qualified students receive no formal post-secondary training.
NyaLonje said TEVET, aligned with the broader education system, is, therefore, a crucial component of human capital development for the realization of MW2063.
“It is the component that interacts most strongly with the world of work, the world of industry and the world of labour.
“It is also increasingly viewed as a bridge to the world of entrepreneurship through self-employment and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development.
“It is sad the challenge to increase access to TEVET is equal in scale and scope to the challenges we face for increasing access to secondary education and higher education,” she said.
TEVETA data further shows that, of the approximately 12,500 students completing their TEVET programs per year, only 69% found employment in 2021. Of these, 42% found waged employment and 26% were self-employed.
NyaLonje then asked experts to the meeting to ensure that TEVET is of adequate and relevant quality to meet the demands of “our ever-changing society”.
“It goes without saying that the future is digital. As we develop TEVET, we need to modernize the technologies and our approaches to the training and application of those technologies, so that we can participate in the 4th industrial revolution that is already upon us. We must digitalize or perish,” she said.
Dr. Thomas Chataghalala Munthali, the Director General of the National Planning Commission of Malawi, a state-owned agency overseeing the implementation of MW2063, concurred with NyaLonje, saying the MW2063 three key pillars of wealth creation—agriculture productivity, commercialization, industrialization and urbanization—require TEVET skills.
According to Munthali, 400,000 people graduate into Malawi’s formal employment sector every year, yet the country can only provide 30,000 jobs.
“TEVET is, therefore, one sure way of making sure that we have artisans that cannot just only go into the formal sector but can also self-employ.
“The skills that have to be developed by the TEVET sector are, therefore, very critical towards attainment of MW2063.
“This conference is very key in making sure that we advance an agenda that can take action about the kind of skills that we are envisaging and building them towards MW2063,” said Munthali.
On his part, TEVETA Board Chairperson, Don Whayo, pointed out a number of achievements the authority has registered in trying to increase access to TEVET.
These, according to Whayo, include, among others: stepping up efforts to raise quality and relevance of TEVET by, among other things, enhancing evidence-based decision making and programming.
“We are also increasing the number of programmes in the informal sector to ensure many Malawians in rural areas access skills development services.
“We also need to maximize the potential of TEVET, more especially the need to align the sector itself with the MW2063 agenda by rebranding some programmes.
“The issues of greening TEVET are also becoming critical plus the issue of digital skills, among others,” Whayo said.
The two-day National TEVET Conference discussed, among others, the formulation of recommendations on improvement of policies and best practices in TEVET, determine a harnessed and unified approach amongst development partners in identification of potential areas for partnerships and collaboration in TEVET and share experiences for promotion of productivity improvements in organizations in Malawi.