Dr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director General for education at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has reaffirmed the institution’s commitment to provide support to Liberia’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Policy.
Dr. Qian gave the assurance at a one day consultation on the draft TVET Legislation, organized by the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on TVET in partnership with UNESCO.
He stressed the need to work collaboratively with the government to support the National TVET Policy, advising, “Let’s work together, because we are going to be with you only when you apply effort that will help young people to get jobs.”
He said the issue of youth unemployment has major implications for society and the national security of any country, therefore the passing of the TVET Policy by lawmakers will create an environment where Liberian youth will be trained and become marketable for any job.
Dr. Qian pointed out that in Liberia, it was sad not only that young people are unemployed, but they also lack employable skills to compete for available jobs.
He disclosed that Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) of over US$20 billion has been committed to the country; and already, some have started yielding and creating jobs. However, due to the lack of absorptive capacity (the ability to understand new information and apply it to commercial ends), Liberians are losing a lot of the available employment opportunities.
He emphasized that education is a basic human right for the public good, as well as a key component of national growth.
TVET, he said, provides more jobs for potential people who desire to improve their lives, adding that for the past three years, UNESCO introduced a program in Liberia with skills on TVET, but weakness contributed to its fragmentation.
On behalf of Education Minister George K. Werner, the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Saku Dukuly, said the response from companies that graduates don’t meet the criteria employers want needs to be looked at seriously.
“The vision of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as a result of her interest in TVET, was to form an Inter-Ministerial Taskforce to look at the sector,” he added.
Mr. Dukuly has meanwhile commended the Ministry of Youth and Sports for working hard over the years to ensure that TVET becomes prominent in the support of education and training.
Assistant Youth and Sports Minister for TVET Boakai Jaleiba said to develop a national policy and operational plan, the legislature needs to commission a financing validation of the TVET program.
He said the problem with the youth is that they lack jobs, adding that TVET is providing them skills for the job market.
He advised that the program should modernize and provide support to the informal sector to ensure that out-of-school youth, early school leavers, women and other vulnerable groups acquire employable skills that will lead to an increase in their income-earning capacities.
Mr. Jaleiba also said that if TVET is passed into law by the National Legislature and approved by President Sirleaf, it will be called the Liberia Technical Commission (LiTCOM).