In addition to tourism and agriculture, construction and infrastructure constitute Kenya’s most important growth sectors. Specifically, the construction sector lacks a well-trained workforce, for example, electricians and plumbers. Given that the industry is barely involved at all with the development of training and curricula, the training centres are limited in their ability to adapt their courses to the needs of the market. Furthermore, trainers lack professional teaching skills and practical experience for them to be able to impart substantial skills.
Together with Kenyan vocational education institutes and companies in the construction sector, the programme identified gaps in qualifications, which the dual apprenticeship-based training model for Kenya has used as the basis for developing new teaching curricula.
Getting the leading local businesses from the plumbing and electrical engineering sectors on board is a special focus of the project because in the end, these stakeholders have to cover their own needs for skilled labour.
Swisscontact is making sure that a comprehensive transfer of knowledge is occurring between Switzerland and Kenya. Swiss technical experts are training the employees of training institutes and local companies, both in practical and classroom vocational training. They are developing teaching tools adapted to the local context and support the design and construction of training workshop facilities.
In the development of the teaching curricula and training of trainers, the Swiss “gold standard” – as the US National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) described Swiss vocational teaching in a report – was applied and then adapted to the Kenyan context. Experts from vocational education institutions such as the Baugewerbliche Berufsschule Zürich and Elektrofachschule St. Gallen lent their expertise. The Geberit sanitation conglomerate played an important role in matters of skills transfer.
The project targets young men and women over 18 – the minimum legal age for apprenticeship training – holding a primary school diploma and a one-year craftsmanship certificate or equivalent training. The purpose is to impart theoretical and practical skills to these young people so that they can then earn a living as competent technicians in the electrical and plumbing sectors.
90 highly motivated trainees out of a pool of 2,000 obtained a training spot, of whom 44 as plumbers and 46 as electricians.
In the first few weeks, students underwent introductory trainings in the electrical and plumbing sectors, as well as courses in health and safety, in addition to social skills trainings.
The project will help the Eastlands College of Technology and Don Bosco Town Technical Institute to construct workshop facilities equipped with tools donated by Hilti and Geberit. At these facilities, students can apply the practical skills they have learned. Provisional workshop facilities have already been set up at the schools.
The teachers and trainee mentors at companies underwent training. They play an important role in a business because it is their job to provide support to young people at the workplace and coach them along their path to successfully completing their professional education.
With an event held with NITA and participating private sector companies, an important milestone was reached. A platform was launched on which companies can apply to be training companies. The companies pay students a uniform trainee stipend, and the intent is for the companies to receive financial support from NITA for each trainee.
The first tools for the Hilti and Geberit plumber and electrician workshop facilities were handed over. Equipping the workshop facilities professionally is a key element in high-quality training as it ensures students can learn how to work competently with tools not available in every workshop.
The project is financed by the Hilti Foundation and is a part of Swisscontact’s Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).