This Is The Time: Cameroon (Africa) Government Invest Intentionally in Vocational Sectors by Javnyuy Joybert
Will I be wrong if I say this is the first time Cameroon (Africa) is experiencing huge challenges because of what COVID-19 has done to the global value chain?
COVID-19 has caused manufacturing and distribution in large economies like China, Singapore, Italy among others to fall drastically which definitely affects small businesses who depend on these goods to serve their customers and also livelihood of citizens.
Africa is an important part of the global value chains especially in providing raw materials and consumption. The question now is what is Cameroon learning from this? What will the leaders do about it?
Moreover, yes, COVID-19 has exposed the poor leadership across many African nations especially poor investment in primary health care, small business empowerment and empowering the vocational sector.
China is at the heart of the global value chain. How did China get here? Let me hint you, China evaluated and adapted the structure, organization and scale of its vocational education and training (VET) system which is the largest such system in the world.
I know in Cameroon, we have technical secondary and high schools and we have a few government vocational training institutes. The question is how well are these being harnessed and fully managed to the highest potential.
When you look at China’s model, you will agree the importance of investing (technically and financially) in vocational training as a means to achieve employment and economic transformation in Cameroon.
How can Cameroon government intentionally invest in this sector?
Building poor equipped buildings (classrooms) in technical secondary/high school and vocational institutes is Ok but not good enough is time to go further. As a nation, we have the brains and the energy to produce for the local market.
1. Quality assurance structures should be designed and well implemented to ensure the quality of vocational training programs
2. Strong collaboration between ministry of vocational training and ministry of small and medium sized businesses. For someone with a vocational skill to move from hand to mouth, they need to treat and expand their vocational skillset as a business. A specialized business registration package should be created for them.
3. Strong collaboration between vocational training institutes and informal key players like carpenters, shoemakers, beauty salons, welders etc. These people have incredible practical experience in serving the needs of the locals. This collaboration will be a two-way benefit the institute tap from their experience and train their students better while the institute help them to become professional and formal structures with systems that respect quality assurance
4. The training curriculum in vocational training institutes should be updated. Vocationally skilled person without certain skills will struggle in the marketplace. Programs like entrepreneurship, packaging that respect national standards, branding, digital marketing, and product presentation among others should be added.
5. Structured and results driven subvention to private apprenticeship and vocational institutes. This sector of subvention is highly hindered by corruption. The ministry of vocational training and employment should intentionally make sure private vocational institutes received exact amount allocated. This can be done by making payment directly to the various institutes account or if the payments must go through various offices, a senior director or the minister himself should make follow up calls with institute directors to confirm if their subventions were received in full. After all, we do not have 1 million vocational institutes so there is no big deal calling those that have benefited from subventions.
Observe carefully, you will notice significant import decrease in textiles, electric and electronic equipment across Africa. Definitely, exports have also experienced strong decreases in these goods. With China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Singapore struggling with COVID-19 cases these decreases are bound to happen. Is time for Cameroon and Africa to wake up and embrace vocational skills empowerment! This high dependence on Asia and Europe for goods like electronics, computing, textile and general manufacturing will continue hurting us and we may never reach the ranks of developed nations (It pains my heart to say this)
To conclude, Cameroon needs skilled citizens to construct and maintain roads, buildings, railways, and bridges. Training Cameroonians to be engineers, shoemakers, and garment makers, among other professions enhances Cameroon’s competitiveness continentally and globally. Cameroonians, who acquire vocational skills in jewelry making, auto repairs, electronic repairs, etc., often set up their own businesses, and enroll apprentices for training. Intentionally expanding the training for technical and vocational skills development will bring innovative solutions and products to various challenges in Cameroon and Africa
Trainer & Skills Development Consultant
Founder, The Center for Entrepreneurship, Leadership & Business Management Development (CELBMD) Africa