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We have had the opportunity in previous visits to appreciate the work that Young Africa is doing in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector, and to see your commitment, energy and efforts. Your training model has proved to be successful around the world and its merit has been recognized internationally.
Support to Education and Skills development as a way to increase the chances for employment is a high priority for the European Union development agenda. Africa has the youngest population of any region of the world and continues to experience strong demographic growth. Providing youth with access to education and Technical and Vocational Training is of paramount importance. If we want to boost investment and create jobs, skills need to be matched with demands of the labour market
Demographic developments in Botswana will see thousands of young people enter the labour market in coming decades, in a context where the formal labour market still is small. According to the "Botswana Demographic Dividend report", 340.000 jobs will have to be created until 2050 to maintain the current unemployment rate. And for full employment 1 million jobs need to be created until the middle of the century. TVET increases employability by equipping the youth with the technical skills to meet labour market needs and opportunities.
Effective vocational training reforms by the government are paramount to provide the market with the skills that are needed either for employment and/or self-employment. Both skills mismatch and the lack of available jobs contribute to the high youth unemployment rates Botswana and other African countries are facing. The youth needs to be empowered with skills that meet the market requirements (technical skills, soft skills and work ethics) in order to get jobs, and with entrepreneurial skills complemented by policies that support entrepreneurship in order to create self-sustained employment.
This has been recognized by the Government of Botswana and is reflected in the President's transformative agenda. In the State of Nation Address last year, H.E. President Masisi acknowledges the importance of skills development for productivity and growth. He encourages the private sector to participate and contribute to enhance the relevance and quality of Technical and Vocational Education and Training.
And that is an important addition, TVET and skills training do not create jobs themselves, these are created by the private sector. The active engagement of the private sector in all levels of the TVET system is fundamental to increase its quality and relevance through apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training.
Making TVET an effective driver for a country’s economic and social development needs concerted efforts and actions of all stakeholders. It requires a well-functioning governance framework that incorporates and balances stakeholders different interests, expectations and potentials through strong collaboration of public and private actors at all levels.
Reliable labour market information about demand and supply is also needed to help address the situation where on the one hand many are looking for a job while on the other hand businesses cannot find the people with the right skills.
The EU is supporting skills development in the several countries in the SADC region. Here in Botswana we have a budget support programme targeting TVET reforms that amounts to 13MEUR.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Despite the fact that Vocational Training and skills development are increasingly recognized as drivers for economic and social development particularly among young people, it still faces some challenges. The main one is the fact that: Technical and Vocational Training suffers from low esteem, low appreciation and low appeal. Altogether, its potential is not well recognized and properly valued.
This is the challenge the Making TVET Cool Campaign is aiming to address: The image of TVET should be improved. TVET should no longer be seen as the last possible option for those who have failed the academic system. TVET is an actor for youth empowerment and should be an option on its own.
I will not go into detail about what the Making TVET Cool Campaign is going to be, as this will be addressed by Young Africa Botswana. Nonetheless, there are some essential points for reflection:
The first is that we need a special focus on women. Women entrepreneurs have a great impact across the globe, contributing towards the growth and well-being of their societies. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, women entrepreneurship is on the rise globally. In 2017, 136 million women were starting businesses worldwide, while 111 million were running established businesses. Here in Botswana there is still a bias towards boys as most of the programmes for a long time have been offered in traditionally male-dominated trades. Therefore, this campaign should also contribute to encourage women’s participation in all areas of training.
Secondly, it is necessary to create the conditions for a paradigm change for TVET. Vocational Training is not only about mechanics, bricklaying; hairdressing etc (HAMMER)…TVET is also digitalization, technology, robotics, arts, even artificial intelligence… (IPAD)
Last, but not least important is the engagement of the youth. The youth should be engaged in the transformation agenda. And TVET and youth programmes should target and support not only those who have no jobs and no options but also those who have started companies and need support to develop and sustain their businesses. I know for a fact that YAB is doing a great job in that area!
I am sure that with the support of the Government of Botswana, namely the Ministry of Basic Education, the Ministry of Tertiary Education, the Ministry of Labour and Skills development and the Ministry of Youth, as well as with the support of the corporate world and the engagement of the youth, the partnership between the European Union Delegation and Young Africa Botswana on the implementation of the Making TVET Cool Campaign will be successful. And I have no doubts that its results will yield great benefits for the youth of this country.
Thanks for your attention! Ke a leboga. Pula!