Discussions from the second day of the Review of the Industrial and Vocational Training (IVT) Act of 1982 highlighted the need for Eswatini to be deliberate in addressing the high levels of youth unemployment by equipment the youth with quality TVET skills. Staggering at 58.4%, youth unemployment in the country has become a social and economic development challenge of our time, calling for all sectors of the economy to come together to devise lasting solutions in addressing this problem.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS) in partnership with Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) hosted on the 22nd of September 2022, the second round of physical stakeholder consultations to inform the review of the Industrial and Vocational Training (IVT) Act of 1982. This consultation focused on industry and training institutions.

Stakeholders argued that the education system and industry have been operating like different sides of the same coin for many years to the detriment of the quality of TVET skills in the country. This has led to significant gaps and mismatches in skills development leading to high external expenditure as companies resort to training their apprentices outside the country.

Companies and training institutions agreed that more collaborative effort would drive change and foster development in the TVET sector. The stakeholder emphasized the need for institutionalisation of skills observatories or what is known as a skills anticipation system to ensure that skills training is forward looking and based on industry needs, which is, focused on the skills to be required by industry in the next three to five years.

In order to curb youth unemployment, the new IVT Act proposes the following key legislative initiatives:

  • To re-establish the Directorate of Vocational and Industrial Training (DIVT) to regulate, monitor, co-ordinate technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in consultation with industry, employers, workers, and other relevant stakeholders;
  • To standardize the TVET sector so as to ensure that training is aligned to the current and future needs of all industries;
  • To ensure compliance of Eswatini’s TVET Qualifications with regional and international qualification standards: This means with a Diploma/Degree from any of the TVET colleges in Eswatini, a graduate will through the provisions of the new Act be able to transfer or continue with their training anywhere in Eswatini and especially anywhere in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region;
  • Develop guidelines for recognition of prior learning for the TVET Training sector: What it means it that people with practical experience gained through work-based learning will be able to go for trade testing at the DIVT to prove their competencies. Currently, there are many skilled and experienced people who cannot find work simply because they cannot prove that they have the skill to do the work;
  • Coordinate and implement institutionalisation for recognition of prior learning;
  • Establish a stakeholder forum/TVET Training Council to:
    • promote an integrated, demand – driven, competency based modular technical education and training system;
    • to monitor the administration of the Industrial and Vocational Training Fund.
    • monitor and manage gaps between supply and demand for TVET skills;
    • facilitate sound and sustainable financing and funding mechanisms for TVET;
    • facilitate the provision of TVET training opportunities and facilitate for such training;
    • to facilitate the establishment of a TVET system which includes both basics and specialized training to meet the needs of formal, non-formal, and informal sectors;
    • establish a skills observatory and anticipation system for the industrial and vocational sector; and
    • ensure that the system of technical education and training is based on demand and is cost-effective.

One of the key takeaway messages from the contributions made by stakeholders  is the need to establish and institutionalize a better and effective way/modality for the provision of TVET skills. They emphasized that industry must have direct involvement in the production of TVET training, as it is the key consumer of the skills produced by the TVET training institutions. Furthermore, stakeholders urged Government to explore alternative methods for the governance of the TVET training institutions to ensure maximum participation of the private sector in a bid to improve their funding levels and relevance to industry.

One of the key instruments to be explored for funding of the TVET sector is the establishment and institutionalization of a TVET training levy. Stakeholders lamented that without a dedicated TVET levy/Fund, the production of skills for industrialization will remain an unattainable goal for Eswatini. The reason is that TVET training is expensive: it requires intensive investments on appropriate equipment and machinery to provide the relevant and practical training. Government alone cannot shoulder this burden.

Present at this stakeholder consultation meeting were representatives of Royal Eswatini Corporation (ResCorp), European Union (EU), Ubombo Sugar (US), Eswatini Beverages, Business Eswatini, Maloma Colliery, Mpaka Vocational Training, Construction Industry Council (CIC), Montigny, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade (MoCIT), Eswatini College of Technology (ECOT), DIVT, Khuba Traders, Hub Utility Stores, Eswatini Environmental Authority (EEA), Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), Mondelez International, amongst others.

ESEPARC and the MoLSS would like to extend their sincere gratitude to all stakeholders for their contributions and commend them for their participation in these policy consultations.

The Draft IVT Act, 2022/23 will be shared with stakeholders via email and through ESEPARC’s website for validation. Stay tuned … ESEPARC and the MoLSS still need your inputs.