Gov’t Needs US$135m to Tackle Skills Deficit

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In an effort to tackle unemployment in the country, the Liberian government will need US$136m to train at least 12,000 youths in the technical and vocational sector, within five years (2015-2020), according to the National Policy for Technical and Vocational Training (TVET) in its 5-year operational plan.

At the official launch of the policy yesterday at the Ministry of Education, Vice President Joseph Boakai said he has a strong conviction that vocational and technical training is the premier strategy for achieving a higher rate of employment.
“For a post-conflict country like Liberia, there is no better place to deliver TVET than ours,” Amb. Boakai said. “We are a country that is transitioning from the setback of a conflict.”

In a solemn tone, Ambassador Boakai stated that contributing to the inherent skill deficit is the structure of our national education program.
He revealed that over the years, the UP Administration had placed all the eggs in the ‘holy bucket’ that produces accountants, economists, political scientists, public administrators, among others, but little emphasis has been placed on technical education.

Besides the constraints triggered by the government’s inaction to change the education narrative, the country is lagging behind in producing what we consume, thus making Liberia an almost entirely an import-based economy, lamented the VP.
“We are importing drinking water, valued at US$9.9m even though we have water everywhere! This policy addresses the manufacturing sector, Amb. Boakai pointed out. We need to get our people to work by the provision of demand-driven skills.”

“US$15m for meat products importation and this was before Ebola! Liberia has more than 40% of the forest in the Upper Guinea region, yet we are importing tree products for US$18.5m.”

The TVET Policy and its 5-year operational plans are resting on 10 inter-related pillars, namely improving on governance, management and efficiency of the TVET system, improving the trainability and capacity of the work force; providing quality and relevant TVET for all to enhance employability and livelihoods and harnessing human capital for increased manufacturing and industrialization.

Other pillars include promoting productivity and sustainability in agriculture; developing a competitive workforce for tourism and hospitality sector; promoting productivity in the informal sector; building capacity in the ICT Sector; financing and branding.

Earlier, Youth and Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe said the policy and operational plan is a major strategy to address the weaknesses assigned to the available employment opportunities.
He urged the National Legislature to pass it into law to serve as a vehicle for promoting access to quality skills training, stimulating economic growth, creating sustainable employment and reducing poverty. He urged government and the international community to support the policy to achieve what has been spelled out.

The Chairmen on the Committee of Youth and Sports and Education in the House and Senate, Lester Paye and Jewel Howard Taylor, promised to support the passage of the policy.
US Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Deborah R. Malac also pledged the US government’s support to youth development.

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