HOUSING FINANCE has steered the building and construction industry in developing a new set of building and construction occupational standards.
Unveiled at the end of last month, the occupational standards are expected to significantly improve the quality of training among artisans in the sector, as players evaluate the modalities of bridging the skills gap in the market.
As the foundation for training artisans, the occupational standards have been designed to facilitate collaboration between the industry and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions in order to match the trainees’ skills with market demands, said Ms Winnie Imanyara, the executive director of HF Foundation.
The occupational standards were developed in consultation with both public and private sector players, including the National Construction Authority (NCA).
HF Foundation, the social investment arm of HF Group, steered the process of developing the new guidelines and handed them over to the Curriculum Development Accreditation and Certification Council (CDACC), which is expected to develop them into training content and material for TVET institutions, as well as for assessment of practising artisans, says Ms Imanyara.
If adopted, the occupational standards will entrench competency-based education and training (CBET) in TVET institutions. This would, in turn, impart employable skills among the trainees in these institutions.
“Without job-related skills, young people cannot benefit from employment opportunities that offer a decent income. The present skills-development system in Kenya follows a curriculum-based, time-bound approach, rather than the demand-driven approach,” Ms Imanyara said, when she handed over the guidelines to CDACC.
“If Kenya fully adopts CBET, the country will succeed in providing gainful employment to its growing workforce and ensuring that the youth are successfully integrated into the economy. This will open the path to a demographic dividend that will improve competitiveness, raise household incomes, reduce poverty and create a virtuous cycle of investment and growth,” she said.
She added that failure to achieve such integration would raise the possibility of social disruption, and of an economy that cannot attract industries that are globally competitive.
The occupational standards are the first in Kenya, which has for years grappled with inadequate skills among artisans.
The African Development Bank estimates that 75 per cent of artisans are not formally or adequately trained, which results in a major skills gap. Currently, artisans are largely trained on the job, a situation that not only prevents learning many basic construction requirements, but also hinders them from accessing higher paying jobs.
The occupational standards are also in line with the HF Foundation’s vision of empowering artisans. The foundation is currently implementing the “Army of one million artisans” initiative that aims to facilitate and catalyse industry-relevant and sustainable practical skills, required by the construction industry.
Ms Imanyara also noted that recent developments in the industry were pointers that CBET is one of the keys to unlocking the quality and safety in construction work in Kenya.
The adoption of CBET in Kenya will help meet the needs of the industry and expose trainees to the best global and industry practice. “There is a need to initiate and mainstream competence-based training to enable TVET graduates to acquire skills, knowledge and right attitudes to perform jobs to the required standard in collaboration with industry,” she said.