Swiss Delegation visit to the PropelA Dual Apprenticeship project in Kenya

Initial vocational education and training
Despite their academic qualifications, many young people in Kenya struggle to find employment because they lack practical skills that are in high demand in the job market. This has been attributed to the country’s significant skills shortages in many trades and at different levels which has primarily been addressed either by importing foreign qualified workers or by training informally on the job. The lack of qualified workers has a negative impact on the industry overall, resulting in many incidences of accidents, material wastage and low productivity and quality of construction. At the same time, there is an increasing number of young people entering the labour market, often without prior access to training nor the necessary skills for quality employment. To solve the underlying challenge, Swisscontact is implementing a Dual Apprenticeship model, dubbed the PropelA program, borrowed from the Swiss model of Dual apprenticeship and localised to fit the Kenyan Context.

On the 2nd of March 2023, a high-level Swiss delegation that included the State Secretary of Economic Affairs, Ms. Helene Budliger Artieda, and the Ambassador of Switzerland to Kenya, Mr. Valentin Zellweger, visited Don Bosco Technical Institute, a partnering privately owned Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institution, which runs the plumbing program for both female and male apprentices. Also present were CEOs from leading local private sector companies partnering with Swisscontact to implement the PropelA project, together with government representatives from the Kenyan Ministry of Education represented by Madam Joyce Mwale.

Helene Budliger Artieda, State Secretary of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), visited apprentices at the Don Bosco Technical Institute.

Engaging with the private sector for a dual model

Key among the issues presented were the adoption and use of the dual apprenticeship model in vocational education and engaging with the private sector to shape the Kenyan TVET system to offer solutions that will bridge the existing skills gap. As a response to the issues raised, Ms. Helene Budliger Artieda emphasised the vitality of the dual model, as not all youth are academically inclined. Moreover, she connected the thriving economy of Switzerland to the dual model of the country’s TVET system. On the other hand, Ambassador Valentin Zellweger mentioned that the Swiss TVET system inherently follows the bottom-up approach which is what Kenya is trying to implement to combat youth unemployment.

The government representatives were enthusiastic to upscale the program into other trades and extend it to currently existing government institutions. They were encouraged by the marketing that this program would create for the TVET school system in general and note the importance of re-branding vocational educational to attract more young people to join. The PropelA system runs in line with the Kenya’s new education system that lays emphasis on building skills based competencies among Kenyan children.

From left to right: Anirban Bhowmik, Director Central, East and Southern Africa; Werner Wallner, CEO Hilti Foundation; Helene Budliger Artieda, State Secretary of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO); Joyce Mwale, Kenyan Ministry of Education; Lillian Mwai - Ndegwa, Country Director Kenya; Valentin Zellweger, Ambassador of Switzerland to Kenya 

The Project

Through public-private partnerships with Kenyan and select multinational enterprises such as Hilti, Geberit or Schneider Electric, an apprenticeship offer for plumbing and electrical installations will be co-created. On the one hand, the project will enable newly skilled young Kenyan workers to access decent jobs in safe workplaces and earn higher living incomes. On the other hand, employers will benefit from the services of more skilled and productive workers.

The project seeks to reach young men and women above 18 years who have completed 4 years of secondary school and 1-year craft certificate or equivalent. It will aim to improve their technical skills and hands-on experience to install electrical and plumbing systems. The project will also address their working attitude towards safety standards, time management and the efficient and sustainable use of materials and resources.

This project is financed by the Hilti Foundation. It is part of the Swisscontact 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.