Kenya: vocational teaching at the start

Initial vocational education and training
The construction sector is one of Kenya’s most important economic growth sectors. However, Kenyan construction companies have been unable to leverage this potential because there is lack of skilled labour, specifically in the fields of plumbing and electrical trades. One reason is the country’s weak vocational education system whose training offers are disconnected from the industry needs. To address this challenge, Swisscontact has co-developed an employer-led dual apprenticeship programme in collaboration with the Hilti Foundation.

Through public-private partnerships with Kenyan and a few selected multinational companies, a training programme for plumbers and electricians is in development. This facilitates access to gainful employment for young Kenyan participants or those already in the labour force. Simultaneously, employers’ benefit from better-trained employees.

Ready to Go! Training curricula, teaching materials, and timetables:

During this first phase, the project focused on various preparatory initiatives: for example, the training programmes, materials, and timetables were designed under close consultation with Swiss experts and Kenyan training institutes.

"I was convinced by the Swiss apprenticeship training system. It is the right way to approach your career and professional life."
Dennis Moseti, trainer in electrical engineering

What is key to the project’s success are adequate training materials, which trainers and mentors – the expert supervisors in companies – require to prepare their classes throughout the two-year training course.

"The industry needs a lot of trained technicians, and these are lacking in Kenya. For this reason, the Swiss system of dual, apprenticeship-based vocational training is the perfect solution: it offers hands-on, practical training. I have learned many new techniques and methods that are applied in the Swiss educational system."
Timothy Verah, trainer in sanitary engineering

Interactive trainings for mentors and trainers

This past July and August, the first trainings were implemented for future trainers and mentors. Even Swiss experts travelled to Kenya to share their practical knowledge. In all, 12 trainers and 22 representatives from the private sector participated in the trainings.

"Two key aspects in the classroom were new for the trainers: first, they were not used to setting up their classes in a layout with trainees in the middle, and second, there is typically no direct connection to the professional world, i.e., the construction site reality. Our goal was thus to show, using specific examples, how to design your class to make it as realistic and trainee-focused as possible."
Sam Derrer, vocational education expert from Switzerland 

The trainings encompassed topics such as understanding the trainer roles, curriculum design and reviewing learning progress. Participants proved to be quite impressed by the programme throughout and felt well equipped for their future roles in the schools and at the companies.

"The programme was interactive and featured a lot of exchange with the experts. I benefited immensely and now I understand the education process a lot better."

Benjamin Muchina, trainer in electrical engineering

The project is being implemented by Swisscontact in collaboration with various partners. The goal is to successfully introduce a dual apprenticeship-based training model for the construction sector in Kenya. The focus during this first phase is in the fields of plumbing and electrical works.

"I wish I had gotten to know the Swiss experts while in college. This training I’ve participated in has demonstrated that in addition to the course contents, it is important to close the gap between the companies and the schools, and I’m sure this programme will change a lot of things. I like the approach of including trainees in the planning process before really taking on a task."

Phelix Arron, trainer in electrical engineering

The project is financed by the Hilti Foundation. It 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.

Initial vocational education and training
Improving skills for young plumbers and electricians through dual apprenticeship training (PropelA)
The PropelA project seeks to introduce a dual apprenticeship model driven by employers for the construction industry in Kenya and beyond, starting with plumbers and electricians.