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

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenya's economic growth is expected to continue in the years to come. Besides tourism and agriculture, investments in construction and infrastructure is the most important and attractive growth sector for the country in the future. Nevertheless, 37% of the Kenya population does not participate in the country’s development and still lives in extreme poverty. Kenya has a dynamic private sector and a growing entrepreneurial middle class. The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system is undergoing major reforms and there is a shift to workplace-based learning. Even though an apprenticeship framework was recently adopted, progress remains slow. As the industry is not very involved in the development of training and curricula, training centres still have limited capacity to tailor their offer to the needs of the market. In addition, instructors lack the pedagogical competencies and professional experience to deliver relevant training. Therefore, graduates fail to meet employers’ expectations and enterprises struggle to get the skilled workers they need to deliver quality work. The PropelA project seeks to introduce an employer-driven dual apprenticeship model driven by employers for the construction industry sector in Kenya and beyond, starting with plumbers and electricians.
Nairobi County, Kenya
Project duration
2022 - 2025

The project

Co-creating an apprenticeship offer together with public and private partners: Through public-private partnerships with Kenyan and select multinational enterprises, 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.

Establishing a business case for dual apprenticeships: The project aims to raise awareness among enterprises that an integrated learning programme, which combines school-based theory with practical courses and on-the-job training anchored in companies will pay off in the long run. The development of such a model implies risks that individual companies are unlikely to take and that, therefore, need to be distributed and partially born by a third party; this is the raison d'être of this project.

This dual apprenticeship project will aim for systemic impact, which goes beyond the immediate value for the enterprise or apprentice to bring about changes that will benefit a wider set of companies and their networks and that are sustainable at the sectoral level beyond the project duration.

Project partners

  • Hilti Foundation
  • Hilti AG
  • Geberit AG
  • Schneider Electric
  • Leading Kenyan plumbing and electrician companies
  • Kenya government agencies (NITA, TVETA, CDACC)
  • Kenyan training centers (Don Bosco, Eastlands College of Technology)
  • Swiss plumbing and electrical experts from Elektrofachschule St Gallen, Baugewerbliche Berufsschule Zürich and others


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 centers. 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.

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 recognized by the industry and the governmental training and accreditation institutes. Both companies and training providers have built competence and capacity to educate apprentices.

Achievements of the inception phase 2021: The project achieved to develop the dual-apprenticeship prototype best suited for the Kenyan context and bring private companies, training institutes and other relevant stakeholders on board to implement the dual apprenticeship training model efficiently and effectively. The actors agreed on two-year training for graduates from secondary school, which will be hired by the companies and trained by company coaches, at practical branch courses and theoretical classes at training centers in order that graduates of the program achieve Kenyan qualification level 4. At the end of the inception phase, 20 of the leading electrical and plumbing companies have contractually committed themselves to actively participate in the project, including an annual intake of apprentices, payment of training fees and allocation of company coaches for the apprentices. Two leading private schools have been selected and contracted to revise the curricula with Swiss experts. A network of global and Swiss partners has been established, who will provide their expertise and resources, and partially also provide financial support (renovating and equipping schools). Among the global partners are Geberit AG, Schneider Electric, Siemens and Schindler. With the governmental institution (NITA) it was agreed to get their involvement in curriculum design and accreditation.

Implementation phase 2022-2025 – planned intervention areas:

  1. Establish and operationalize 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 finalized; 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.

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 use 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. 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. 


Switzerland, Kenya, Bangladesh, Guatemala
Initial vocational education and training, Continuing Vocational Education and Training, Labour market insertion
Promoting vocational education and training together with the private sector
At an event in Zurich on June 8, 2023, Swisscontact presented three vocational education projects that underscore the importance of involving the private sector in development cooperation. These projects also highlight how companies in Kenya, Bangladesh, and Guatemala are moving vocational education forward in order to create jobs and a better future for their people. The event was titled "Shifting Power - How the Private Sector Drives Change in State-led Education Systems".
Initial vocational education and training
A dual training model for Kenya
Together with the Hilti Foundation, and in close collaboration with leading local businesses and vocational schools, Swisscontact is creating a new vocational training model in Kenya. Since starting in April 2022, the project has become a showcase for an employer-guided dual apprenticeship-based training model for Kenya’s construction sector as well as for other sectors and developing countries.
Initial vocational education and training
Swiss Delegation visit to the PropelA Dual Apprenticeship project in Kenya
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.