Written on Sep 15, 2022 by OBG Admin Analysis

In December 2021 the government of Côte d’Ivoire adopted a bill outlining a comprehensive reform package for the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) industry. If approved by the Parliament and implemented, the bill would usher in widespread changes to the country’s existing TVET governance and financing structures, as well as establish new training and evaluation mechanisms to boost the quality of instruction and improve learning outcomes. Importantly, these educational reforms seek to align TVET curricula with the needs of the labour market, which should both help to curb high youth unemployment, and assist employers in recruiting and retaining national talent to fill ICT job vacancies.

Reform Efforts

The new bill builds on prior initiatives to transform the TVET segment. In 2009 the government signed a partnership agreement with private sector players and trade chambers to draft TVET enhancements and implement changes. Since 2011 oversight of the TVET industry has shifted to several different ministries in response to the relocation or restructuring of departments and central offices.

Government funding for the segment has remained relatively consistent in recent years, at around CFA41bn ($70.5m). Roughly 93% of this funding is allocated to TVET teachers’ salaries, operating costs and subsidies for private vocational education, the latter of which accounts for nearly half of all student enrolment. The remaining 7% of the budget is earmarked for work equipment and tools.

Private Sector

As at other levels of the education sector, the private sector plays an important role in delivering TVET instruction (see overview). However, many private establishments charge high tuition fees and are not necessarily located in rural areas of the country, where access to training centres and employment opportunities is particularly important for graduates. There is also a perceived lack of regulation in the segment, which undermines confidence.

In a recent report, the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) noted that, relative to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, Côte d’Ivoire’s TVET segment was more focused on traditional trades, such as carpentry, motor mechanics, fashion and catering, which rely on older technologies. As a result, many graduates lack the technical, communications, ICT, business and entrepreneurship literacy skills sought by the labour market. An estimated 84% of TVET establishments in the country do not use digital ICT equipment. With many employers in Côte d’Ivoire struggling to find suitable candidates for digital security, robotics, home automation, and computer and network maintenance roles, there is a strong investment case for expanding the provision of ICT-based TVET.

Unlocking Synergy

As case studies in other emerging markets demonstrate, strengthening collaboration between private industry and government stakeholders would help to align TVET curricula with current labour market needs. Since 2016 stakeholders from the private sector have been included in the development and implementation of training curricula for TVET institutions; however, according to a survey conducted by ACET, roughly 81% of employers in the country are not actively engaged in curricula development, revision or reform, highlighting the importance of promoting further dialogue and collaboration.

With the government having set a target of 30% enrolment of secondary school-age students in TVET programmes by 2030, boosting student confidence in TVET as an avenue for employment and professional development will be crucial to success. A number of the initiatives included in the latest TVET reform agenda could help to achieve this, including the development of new training facilities, an increase in the number of scholarships on offer and improved regulatory oversight. However, perhaps more than anything, greater synergy with the needs and expectations of private industry could prove to be the key to success.