United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, has said that Liberian youths should not be branded as source of conflict, but agents of change.
Ambassador Malac made the recommendation when she spoke recently at the official launch of the National Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Policy and Operational Plan at the Ministry of Education (MOE).
She said Liberian youths are capable of making important contributions to the development of the country when they are provided with adequate trainings.
“Rather than being a source of conflict or problem, youths are agents of change, and they can make important contributions to Liberia’s development. When youth have the support, resources and opportunities that they need to succeed, they can become and indeed are key proponents of stable democracies, strong societies, and prosperous economies, she noted.
According to the female diplomat, to achieve the objective, youth need the training, skills and education that should come from an effective TVET system.
She added that TVET promises to lead the response to youth employment and that investments in youth was a vital economic and social building block in most societies, which are also crucial in Liberia where over 70 percent of the total population is under 36 years.
Ambassador Malac stressed further that the United States Government recognizes that preparing Liberians for the workforce encompasses a comprehensive approach that incorporates three major principles.
The principles call for training that Ambassador Malac believes must be demand-driven by the labor market; it must include basic and soft skills in addition to technical skills; and it must be adaptive and innovative.
“USAID’s Excellence in Higher Education for Liberia Development project, for instance,” the Ambassador said “is working with Liberia’s leading universities to respond to the growing labor market demand in engineering and agricultural jobs. This project is also linking Liberian universities to the private sector entities, such as the Liberian Employers Action Group.”
“Soft skills are also essential.One of the hallmarks of USAID’s Advancing Youth Project, which builds the skills of out-of-school youth and provides them quality alternative basic education services and livelihood support is the development of important soft skills, such as leadership, communications, and critical thinking. These skills help young people enter into and succeed in society and the economy,” she added.
The Ambassador also noted that youth unemployment must be innovative, and people must develop new and creative ways to make agricultural training more accessible and relevant to the youthful population.
“Solutions to youth unemployment must also be innovative–we must develop new and creative ways to make agricultural training more accessible and relevant. In March, I attended the launch of the USAID-supported National Diploma in Agriculture, an innovative, skills-based, two-year vocational program, which prepares high school graduates for agricultural employment in the formal sector or through entrepreneurship. The NDA was developed by USAID’s Food and Enterprise Development program and the Ministry of Education by adapting Nigeria’s vocational agriculture curriculum to the Liberian context, considering Liberia’s market demands and the needs of Liberian youth,” Ambassador Malac said.
She disclosed that the NDA has been rolled out in Nimba, Lofa and Grand Bassa Community Colleges, as well as the Booker Washington Institute and is Liberia’s first fully approved ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) curriculum.