Building skills for young plumbers and electricians through dual apprenticeship training (PropelA)

The construction sector is among the fastest growing industries in Kenya and is expected to become increasingly important in the future. However, Kenyan construction companies cannot fully exploit the opportunities of this growth because there is a shortage of skilled labour for trades like electrical and plumbing. Private sector has indicated that the current training offered by vocational school is disconnected from the industry needs. It is important to note that Kenya has implemented a dual VET model, yet the involvement of the private sector in this model remains unregulated and undefined.The situation has encouraged the Hilti Foundation and Swisscontact to start an employer-led dual apprenticeship programme for the construction industry in Kenya dubbed “PropelA”. The project is funded by the Hilti Foundation, supported by international partners such as Geberit International AG, and implemented by Swisscontact. The project is developing a skilled workforce that meets industry needs and is currently focusing on the plumbing and electrical trades. 
Nairobi County, Kenya
Mombasa, Kenya
Project duration
2022 - 2025

In Kenya, approximately one million young individuals flood the labour market annually, facing challenges in securing employment. Vocational Education and Training (VET) has the potential to address youth unemployment and foster sustainable, innovative economic growth. However, the existing VET system in Kenya often operates independently of the private sector's needs, resulting in a workforce with mismatched skills set, especially in fast-growing sectors like the construction sector.

The project

Building on evidence and considering the perspective and needs of the private sector, the PropelA project succeeded in developing and piloting a functional model for dual VET, where electro- and plumbing apprentices learn skills needed to meet industry standards on the job, in the classroom and in the practical workshop.  

Since 2022, the PropelA project was fostering partnerships with 35 companies from the Nairobi area, and providing access to over 200 students to the new dual training, all of which being formally employed under an apprenticeship contract of 2 years. This flagship project is a seminal approach to systemic VET systems development with the leading role of the private sector.

The project seeks to reach young men and women above 18 years who have completed 4 years of secondary school with a minimum grade of D+ and 1-year craft certificate or equivalent. The project is modelled on the dual apprenticeship curricula in Switzerland but localised for it to be effective suited for the Kenyan context.

The National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), which provides industrial training and certification services in Kenya has accredited the programme for national recognition, KNQF level 5.  

The project will aim to improve their technical skills and hands-on experience in installing 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.

Implementation Phase 2022-2025 – Planned Intervention Areas:

  1. Establish and operationalise high-quality Dual Apprenticeship in Nairobi and Mombasa: Building the capacities of the training providers and private companies to implement dual apprenticeship; Developing curricula, instructional materials, further develop trainers and design top-notch workshop.
  2. Secure public sector recognition and establish co-financing mechanism: National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) approves the model, companies, schools, and the curricula; Overall financing model to cover the dual apprenticeship training is finalised; Private companies access NITA levy fund to cover the dual training.
  3. Build capacities of enterprise networks: Building capacities of enterprise networks that seek to jointly deliver the vision of enhancing the overall performance and the quality standards of the industry.
  4. Supporting institutional partners for scaling up of dual apprenticeship model: Training schools promote dual apprenticeships and enrol new employers as part of their business development strategy; Training schools and associations have the capacity to provide the necessary support to the new employers adopting the dual apprenticeship model.

Project partners

  • Hilti Foundation
  • Hilti AG
  • Geberit International AG
  • Schneider Electric
  • Leading Kenyan plumbing and electrician companies
  • Kenya government agencies (NITA)
  • Kenyan training centre - Don Bosco Boys Technical Training Institute - Karen
  • Swiss plumbing and electrical experts from Elektrofachschule St Gallen, Baugewerbliche Berufsschule Zürich and others

Project goals

  1. Vision of change: The ultimate vision of the project is that the young generation in Kenya is equipped with professional skills and competencies demanded by the construction market so they can find sustainable jobs, generate a solid income, and pursue long-term careers. This will be achieved by establishing an industry-led, government-accredited, and certified vocational skills training program for technically advanced job profiles in the Kenyan construction sector. This dual apprenticeship training modality is a cost-effective alternative driven by the private sector as it is anchored in enterprises. It ensures close links between the three training locations: practical training in companies, practical courses in workshops and theoretical classes at training centres. It is a vision where necessary mechanisms will be put in place to ensure sustainable financing by market actors (firms, government, students) and to ensure education plans meet the requirements of a dynamically developing market.
  2. Systemically change how companies recruit and train: The aim is that by the end of the first project phase in 2025, the leading plumbing and electrical installation companies in Kenya have adopted the dual apprenticeship program as the most important way to recruit and train the new young workforce. Financing is secured through the companies mainly but also co-financed by the government. The competence level is recognised by the industry and the governmental training and accreditation institutes. Both companies and training providers have built competence and capacity to educate apprentices.

Expected Results

  • 1 000 young people are enabled with skills and competences to develop a long-term perspective for their lives. All of them are employed and at least 300 of them will have graduated, while the others are being trained.
  • 70 leading Kenyan companies are actively using the apprenticeship mechanism for recruitment, training and financing the education of apprentices.
  • 200 company coaches and assessors have been trained.
  • 50 trainers of training institutes have been trained in dual apprenticeship.

Financing partners

This project is financed by the Hilti Foundation and Geberit International AG. 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. 


Building a Brighter Future: Inside the HILTI Foundation's Visit to PropelA Dual Apprenticeship Programme
The visit culminated in a dynamic networking event, fostering connections between key stakeholders from Kenya's construction industry, industry association, vocational institution, and government. This gathering served as a powerful testament to PropelA's commitment to a holistic and collaborative approach to transforming the sector.
PropelA Dual Apprenticeship Makes Strides in Championing Public-Private Partnerships for Kenyan TVET at LELAM Conference
In April 2024, Swisscontact's PropelA dual apprenticeship program, funded by the Hilti Foundation, took center stage at the LELAM International TVET Conference 2024, held from April 4th to 5th in Zurich, Switzerland. This program, focused on cultivating industry-specific skills in electrical and plumbing trades, was the only project chosen from Africa to represent a groundbreaking approach to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
PropelA CEO Networking Event - Unveiling a Future of Collaboration and Innovation
Swisscontact hosted a CEO Networking Event, bringing together PropelA Dual Apprenticeship's stakeholders, encompassing private sector entities, government officials, funders, industry experts, and apprentices. Their collective mission: to foresee and actively contribute to the future landscape of the construction industry in Kenya.