The renewed campaign to revamp technical education is a logical response to the realisation that it holds the key to taming the rising colossal youth unemployment.
The thinking behind this is that, equipped with artisan and other skills, these young people can either more easily get blue-collar jobs or set up their own technical workshops.
Indeed, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is back in vogue with the Education ministry giving it increasing support and foreign donors enthusiastically coming on board to help to revive a sub-sector that had become moribund over the years.
And the setting up of a TVET Authority confirms the commitment to enhancing technical education to produce skilled artisans to fill the growing demand for such expertise.
The woeful skills shortage has lately been exposed by the demand spawned by the building of the standard gauge railway and also a crisis at Kenya Pipeline Company, which forced the speedy recruitment and training overseas of pipeline welders after the country had been compelled to urgently hire Chinese, Nigerian and Lebanese workers.
Quite encouraging is a shift in policy that has seen scholarships offered to technical college trainees.
However, this has come with its own challenges.
It’s all very good to have scholarships; the question that arises, however, is whether the technical colleges have the required equipment and tutors to make this worthwhile.
The answer to this is a big No. Auditor-General Edward Ouko says in a report that the country’s 41 technical institutions have very limited capacity to offer vocational training.
There is a need to assess these institutions and reinvigorate them by providing modern equipment.
To get value out of technical training, the curriculum must be revised and updated.
It makes a lot of sense to invest more resources in enhancing technical training to meet the country’s current needs.