The International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2021) notes that the skills development landscape in most African countries typically consists of public and private providers and is often highly fragmented and poorly coordinated. Skills development programmes on the other hand normally lack demand-orientation and quality and neither meet labour market demand for skills nor social demand for accessible skills development that can lead to better employability.

In fact, for Eswatini to become regionally and globally competitive, or find its role as a major regional exporter of skilled human resources, there is an urgent need to re-position and market technical and vocational education and training (TVET) for a sustained flow of skilled graduates in the industrial and vocational fields. This requires broader and deeper public-private partnerships between the MoLSS, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) and other education and training establishments; as well as private sector engagement for development of employability skills and entrepreneurship, including the introduction of learnerships.

The MoLSS through the Directorate of Industrial and Vocational Training (DIVT) has a mandate for vocational training based on the Industrial and Vocational Training (IVT) Act of 1982. The MoLSS developed a strategic plan in 2019 which has a focus to review policies and legal frameworks that can support the production of demand-orientated and quality skills. The Industrial and Vocational Training (IVT) Act of 1982 is one of the legal documents that needs to be reviewed under the current plan.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS) in partnership with The Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) successfully hosted the first round of physical stakeholder consultations to inform the review of IVT Act of 1982. This first batch of consultations focused on government institutions, development partners, and industry/trade technical committees.

Attending this meeting were stakeholders representing the DIVT, National Handicraft Training Centre (NHTC), the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade (MoCIT – MSME Unit), Small Enterprise Development Company (SEDCO), Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP), Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MoPWT), Business Eswatini (BE), Royal Eswatini Sugar Corporation (RES Corp), the Taiwan Technical Mission, Sebenta National Institute, Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA), Federation of Eswatini Trade Unions (FESWATU), Junior Achievement (JA), amongst others.

The discussion included an overview of IVT Act, in terms of what it is, what it legislates, and an account of the achievements and gaps throughout its implementation over the 40 year period since its enactment. An effective IVT Act needs to ensure provision of quality industrial and vocational skills that can align with emerging industry needs. The review of the IVT Act of 1982 can assist the country attain this goal by:

  • Ensuring that the duties of the IVT Board align with emerging vocational training needs;
  • Strengthening the operational capacity of the DIVT as a key trade testing and apprenticeship national facility for the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector;
  • Establishing an effective training levy system to support the financing of vocational training in the country;
  • Providing regulatory guidance on the institutionalisation of the skills anticipation within the TVET sector as a strategy for identifying future labour market needs, which should be a prerequisite for TVET curriculum development, review, and upgrading; and
  • Providing regulatory guidance on apprenticeship training and recognition of prior learning (RPL).

Generally, the TVET system in Eswatini aims to support socio-economic development through the training and sustained expansion of a competent and employable workforce that will have the relevant and marketable skills that can be absorbed by the industries. With a rapidly changing business environment and technological development, TVET is also continuously changing. A growth in industry resulting from changes in products and processes also requires a change in skills and competences to support the dynamic industrialisation trajectories that economies follow. Thus given that the IVT Act was enacted in 1982, several and significant changes have occurred in the TVET training sector and the industries they supply that the legislation must catch up to. Besides catching up to the new developments within Eswatini’s industries, the legislative framework needs to also establish a conducive environment that can enable further development to support industries of the future.  In fact, the extent a country is able to produce quality and competent TVET skills depends on the structure and coordination of the local TVET system, which in turn is enabled by an effective and forward looking legislative framework.

The second round of discussions continue with business and training institutions. ESEPARC is also receiving written comments from stakeholders across the country via email and social media platforms.

A summary of the discussion outcomes will be shared with the public once consultations have been completed. Your views/contributions will go a long way in setting a deliberate and effective legislation that can revitalise industrial and vocational training in order to curb that high youth unemployment rate in Eswatini.

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