By THOMAS KAGERA
Lambert Bavumiragira, stout and square-jawed, speaks hastily with much of his talk followed by gesticulations of the hands, the head, shoulders, then eyes and, in rare bouts of emphasis, the legs. He studied up to senior four and started doing casual jobs in the building sector. He has been practicing masonry and carpentry for close to five years, gaining some rudimentary skills on-the-job over time, but, in general terms, his skills had stagnated and his general income had reached a maximum altitude at about Rwf50,000 a month.
In October 2015, however, the 32-year old Lambert heard a radio announcement, inviting individuals interested in strengthening their skills in;house finishing, ceiling—concrete and planking, painting and tiling.
He, and 35 others applied, recruited in the first intake and were trained at Doctrina Vitae College, Ndera sector of Gasabo district, equipped with skills in; house finishing, painting, ceiling making and tiling.
After three months with their skills polished and knowledge in finishing upgraded, they were passed out, given certificates and sent out to build the nation. But not before leaving an indelible mark at the school. “They eloquently designed and articulately planked the ceiling of the school’s dining hall and painted the administration bloc; it is all the work,” says Abahamuteze Gaspard, the school director who explains that after the first intake, the second one that comprised of 72 trainees was brought on board, noting that the numbers surged because the youth had observed how individuals in the first intake has realized a long jump in their lives in so short a time.
Lambert is one of the 10,946 individual beneficiaries and Doctrina Vitae College one of the 108 implementing institutions of SDF (Skills Development Fund) which is component 3 of Skills Development Project (SDP), which started in 2011, under Workforce Development Authority (WDA), a USD 34.5 million project, implemented in 28 districts across the country.
According to Wilson Muyenzi, the SDP Coordinator, the project was “conceptualized to contribute to the achievement of Rwanda’s long-term development vision of becoming a middle income, export-and service-oriented knowledge-based economy by developing an appropriately skilled labor force. The primary objective of the SDP is to improve access to quality and demand-responsive vocational training.”
This was achieved through 3 SDP components which are:
This component has an objective of Delivery of Quality and Relevant Vocational Training. This component was designed to strengthen the quality of vocational training through interventions that improve quality and relevance of training delivery in 7 public vocational training centers. Component one seeks to pilot the delivery of new curricula at vocational level in the 7 selected vocational training centers, including industrial attachments.
Through this component SDP has financed an integrated package of inputs or “building blocks” to improve the relevance and quality of training programs, targeting:
Curriculum Development: Design and implementation of competency-based, demand-driven curricula;
Assessment: Design and implementation of summative assessments of trainees to ensure they meet industry standards;
Infrastructure, Equipment, and Materials: Infrastructure rehabilitation and construction, provision of equipment and materials;
Training of Trainers: Design and delivery of training to upgrade new or existing trainers related to technical skills and appropriate pedagogical methodologies;
Industrial Attachment Program: Develop and implement industrial attachment programs to promote trainee’s hands-on experience and exposure to a relevant work environment;
Institutional-based Management & Development: Provision of management and leadership capacity building.
This component again improved on the available skills and aimed at enhancing the employability of trainees by ensuring those enrolled obtain practical experience and exposure to relevant work environments. The project applied Industrial Based Training program (IBT), focusing on the hospitality industry. This program trained secondary school graduates in trades like housekeeping, front office operations, foods and beverages, and culinary arts.
The second component focused on TVET System Strengthening, aimed at monitoring and evaluating training delivery, in particular the implementation and performance of the SDP; inform strategic policy decisions and policy reforms by providing sound analyses concerning key aspects of the training system and the labor market; and build capacity for monitoring and evaluation and for conducting relevant research within the WDA and TVET providers.
Component 3 focuses on Rapid Skills Delivery with the key objective of reducing skills gaps by rapidly increasing the supply of skills in high demand in the labor market. It was delivered through the Skills Development Facility/Fund (SDF) that provided competitive sub-grants to eligible applicants to raise the quality and volume of their training in demonstrated areas of skills shortages. A total of 12,857 individuals of whom 48% were female benefited from this component, well above the targeted 12,000 trainees.
The Skills Development Project (SDP) is under the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) financed through a Credit from the World Bank to the Government of Rwanda of US$ 30 Million and Counterpart funding of US$ 4.5 Million. The project development objective is to improve access to quality and demand-responsive vocational training.
The Government of Rwanda has established a strong policy and institutional framework for the development of technical and vocational education and training (TVET). The Workforce Development Authority (WDA) is a government institution established by an act of parliament, with a specific mission to promote, facilitate and guide the development and upgrading of skills and competencies for the national workforce in order to enhance competitiveness and employability.
The Skills Development Project (SDP) under WDA builds upon this basis, focusing on improving access to quality and demand-responsive vocational training as the project development objective. It aims to alleviate current and long-term skills constraints and in so doing contribute to Rwanda’s transition into a middle income, export and service-oriented knowledge-based economy by 2020.
The project therefore contributes to both improving the enabling framework for training provision (private and public) through systems development and capacity building, and finance the provision of quality and relevant training. This SDP reflects good practice with regards to building a skills development system in a country where the mechanisms for matching demand and supply of training are not well developed, which is the case in Rwanda.
SDP supported implementing vocational institutions with financial facilitation which has been used to buy assets/equipment and consumables and any other eligible need for good training in the process of training, built classroom structures from where training takes place and labour compensation for the trainers.
SDP supported Doctrina Vitae College with Rwf26 million among other qualifying institutions with different amounts, used to buy consumables, experimental materials, rehabilitation of classrooms and facilitating trainers among other training needs.
“All the plywood and boards, paint and other accessories we used in teaching and learning how to design and build ceiling structures were provided by the SDP. And we did not just render them to waste because we curved them into ceiling designs used to build two ceilings; of the administration bloc and the school dining hall,” explains Gaspard, Doctrina College director.
Lambert and his cohort are also counting benefits, with their appreciation of the building sector now better, tending to professionalism while their incomes have more than doubled.
“Before acquiring these skills, I could only make about Rwf50,000 a month. When we completed the training however, things changed for the better. We formed a cooperative—CPPT, through which we network, market and get contacts. When we get a big sub-contract, we execute it as a team, a cooperative, observing all building ethics to detail. That way, we produce quality work, build a good name and some clients have become our ambassadors. Today, I make an average of Rwf200,000 a month,” says Lambert, married and father of one, resident of Rwembo village, Kibanga cell, Ndera Sector, Gasabo district who proudly says he has bought a cow and is in the process of putting up his own house, a place he will call home.
Another implementing institution, Belasi Salon School, has also been supported to contribute to rapid skills development in Salon, Style and Beauty management.
Ms Mukayiranga Fanny, the Salon School director, says in 2013 she applied for the support from SDP, submitted a proposal and was granted Rwf24 million given in installments. “I started with refurbishing the saloon from a mere beauty spa into a training facility. Then we embarked on recruitment and training in; hair stylistics, facial, pedicure, manicure and a host of other components. We used some of the money to buy consumables and modern salon equipment.
“Since then, we have trained and passed out 386 beauticians and salon managers. Many of them have been absorbed in salons in major towns in the country, with at least 70 of them having their own salons,” explains MsMukayiranga.
Using the grant from SDP, Mukayiranga also rented a bigger space to accommodate the surging numbers, and opened another beauty school in Bugesera-Nyamata. “My recruitment started with school drop-outs, but today even university graduates enroll with the aim of acquiring skills and start small with their own establishments,” she explains with a wry knowing smile.
IBT boosts hospitality skills
Industry-Based Training (IBT) was initiated in December 16th, 2013 with registration, induction and orientation with trainees drawn from the hospitality sector only, after which it was scaled to other sectors. The actual training commenced in January 2014 where trainees underwent classroom training for a period of 6 months in the hotels after which they did 3 months of industrial attachment in different hotels, guesthouses and restaurants before graduation. A total of 801 have benefited from the IBT program.
Nkurunziza Jean Dean, the Managing Director Eastland Motel-Kayonza, Eastern Province where hundreds of hospitality service providers trained from says it simply and clearly. “We train these youths here, equip them with hospitality skills to serve as if the hotel belonged to them and to count every client as if their very own life depended on them.”
Bagire Edward, 29, who trained from Eastland Motel appreciates the knowledge and skills acquired through IBT under the auspices of SDP. “We got professional skills in hospitality from the training environment similar to where we would be working from after graduating. We killed two birds with one stone: we got the theory and practical experience right from the start,” explains Bagire who specialized in Front Office Operations, and retained by the hotel after graduating.
Mr. Nkurunziza, the Eastland Motel Managing Director, says WDA-supported trainers offer more than just training. “It is a vigorous programme that involves coaching and mentoring. The ultimate goal is to have hospitality professionals on the market that serve with dedication and passion.Besides the occupational skills, in this training we offer extra soft and people-skills; English language, computer and customer care skills and personal grooming.”
In the hospitality sector, IBT programs focused on 4 training occupations: Culinary Art; Food & Beverage Service, Housekeeping Operations and Front Office Operations.
The trainees were given a good foundation, direction and focus, and they did not pay anything; WDA footed all the training bills, but as they graduate and get employed, they can sponsor themselves into acquiring advanced skills. The ultimate goal is meeting the international hospitality standards.
Besides equipping the implementing institutions with hard facilities and tools, the consumables used in training were also provided in addition to trainers.
Ms. Assumpta Muganwa, the Implementing Officer of SDP/SDF at WDA says it’s good the efforts of up-skilling are beginning to bear fruit. “I am glad skills development is taking precedence in Rwanda, addressing the grave challenge of unemployment and enhancing real development of our country. I am impressed with the success stories that have been registered since 2011. I love impact and i am happy i realized it in SDP/SDF/WDA.”
The project will close in December 2016.