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Skills and knowledge: Milestone for development and growth

Sustainable development is the strategy that the State of Eritrea aspires to achieve. To make this dream possible a significant amount of the national budget is now invested on the most important drive of development, that is education. Education in every sense is one of the fundamental factors of development. No country can achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment in human capital.

The rapid economic growth may be the most notable feature of the advanced countries in East Asia. There has been huge investment in the education sector in almost all the newly independent countries. This commitment towards education helped the East Asian economies to create an educated workforce that eventually attracted foreign investment. Alternatively, it is also true that countries with poor human capital endowment could not keep pace with the advanced and globalized world economy (Hanushek, 2013). Countries such as Nigeria were in a similar level of development with the East Asian countries during the decolonization era of 1960’s. But right after their independence, they have experienced different paths of development. Thus, it is evident that human resource development has consistently contributed to the economic growth of the major East Asian countries during the high growth era and is still contributing in the development of the region.

Today we live in an extremely interconnected world. Every day, in order to ensure competitiveness and profitability, companies and nations of the world are sleeplessly searching for new and innovative techniques of production and marketing.

Due to the fact that vocational training, together with basic education, is one of the central prerequisites for economic and social development, Eritrea has devoted itself to assisting the youth in order to help them become employed and escape the exclusion from economic life merely because they lack the necessary qualifications. It is for this reason that as part of the National macro policy, one of the objectives of education and training is: “to produce a population equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge, and culture of work for a self-reliant and modern economy” (education horizon, MoE 2009).

In Eritrea, vocational training can and must make a specific contribution to the implementation of this vision. Skill development may be defined as a process to acquire and sharpen capabilities to perform various functions associated with one’s present and future role (Abbas and Saeed 2005). Training, in general, and skills development, in particular, not only play a vital role in individual, organizational and overall national economic growth but are integral parts of Human Resource Development (HRD).

Like other developing countries, Eritrea also has a strong prerequisite for experienced and trained personnel. The human resource is the main asset of the country and future demand is expected to increase with the increasing inflow of investment in different sectors of the economy. The rationale of founding the Sawa Vocational Training Center (SVTC) lies with the objective to coach the youth for work, to produce a work force that can participate in the national development campaign and that can adapt to the dynamic nature of the world economy, to train the youth to fulfill the labour market demands, and to produce youth armed with work ethics.

The SVTC was founded in 2007 with the aim of equipping the youth, especially those who were not able to score the required results in their Matriculation examinations, thereby reducing the wastage of human capital.

In line with that it was heartening to see students graduate in different fields of study from different technical and vocational training centers. This year, the Sawa Vocational Training Center (SVTC) has graduated students, of whom the 57% were female in accounting, secretarial science, survey, drafting, electricity, general wood and metal work, carpentry and plumbing. According to Mr. Tesfay Tewelde, Director of the SVTC, the school has graduated trainees admitted for 8th and 9th series of courses in 10 fields of study, under three schools for the 8th round. These graduates are molded to be responsive to the national call for development and will be absorbed by the construction and mining companies throughout the country.

Mr. Tesfay indicated the importance of upgrading the school’s programs to diplomas by revising the duration of training and curriculum content on the occasion of the 8th round graduation.

Skills enable individuals to be more productive and spawn more money. Beyond this advantage, the provision of these kinds of training centers help in the fulfilment of social justice measures and other fundamental human rights. Youth can remain unemployed if they are unskilled even if there are potential work opportunities. Through this lens, the provision of vocational training reduces the unemployment rate. Another spillover effect is that the trained youth can also transfer their skills to their fellows.

The Eritrean national skills development policies and systems strive to meet present and future need of the development projects to improve productivity in the sectors which are critical for the achievement of national employment and development goals. Accordingly, the number of technical and vocational training centers are mushrooming. Annually thousands of youth graduate form these centers and are absorbed by different public and private institutions

To augment impact, the trainings are result-oriented skills corresponding with the current economic situation of Eritrea and are given according to the kind of labor demand in Eritrea. Different institutions cooperate with the training centers and eventually the trainees are recruited to them. Associated institutions give their feedback on the trainees on a regular basis to improve the standards of the training centers. According to some associate companies, such as the construction companies, the preparedness of the pass-outs for skills from the vocational training centers is satisfactory. There is a hand of the youth behind every constructed dam, road, building… etc. trained in these kinds training centers.

Meriem Issa, from the General Metal work department of the SVTC, says that at the beginning she was hesitant to pursue her studies because of the general perception of associating metal work with men. But the training exceeded my expectation because I have acquired a lot in the two years of training, she says. Many of the graduates are confident on their newly acquired skills and some of them aspires to open their own workshops.

The SVTC works in cooperation with the National Training Center, the Technical and Vocational department, animal and Farm Corporation, local enterprises and other organizations.

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