Call for Applications: Research/Study on TVSD Supply Side

Rethinking the role of Technical and Vocational Skills Development in future work and lifelong learning, in light of digitalization and 4IR

I. Context

The world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, (UNDESA, 2019). According to recent UN forecasts, Africa continent is expected to double its population by 2050, from 1 billion to nearly 2.4 billion inhabitants. Most importantly, half of that population will be less than 25 years old, which raises the urgent question of whether its economy has the capacity to absorb the millions of new arrivals that will soon flood its job market.1 However, the truth is that Africa is not adequately equipping its young people for the jobs of tomorrow. Digitalization, mathematics, materials sciences, biotechnology, engineering, artificial intelligence and robotics head the agenda for tomorrow’s required skills in what is commonly called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The provision of most of these skills are not on the current secondary or even tertiary curricula in Africa, and this means that available skills and competencies coming through the system do not sufficiently align with job market needs.2 Globalization, demographic shifts and technological changes brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) (Schwab, 2016) are having profound effects on the global labor market. These disruptions raise issues around the types of skills and learning required for the future of work.  The world of work is going through a rapid transformation. Technology is changing the skills requirements of occupations, affecting both new entrants to the labor market and older workers. 

Unfortunately, current education systems are not adequately preparing the workforce for these changes. There is a disconnect both in terms of curricula and requisite skills  in the labour market and between education outcomes and employers’ needs. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO, 2019), 64 million youth are unemployed worldwide. More strikingly, 20 percent of young people are not in education, training or employment—they are disengaged. At the same time, millions of jobs remain unfilled. This paradox—high youth unemployment alongside widespread vacancies— requires rethinking the role that education systems, and specifically TVSD and other types of work-based learning, can play in bridging this divide. The 4IR will bring new ways of working, such as the “platform economy,” and will create new jobs, as economies respond to the impact of developing technologies (Evans and Schmalensee, 2016). Strong population growth in developing countries represents a demographic opportunity that could be wasted if economies do not create meaningful jobs and educate new generations appropriately for the future of work (Bandura and Hammond, 2018). In this regard, TVSD should not be overlooked as a legitimate pathway to employment. TVSD systems must increase their partnership with employers to ensure appropriate forms of learning and access to world-class skills to promote new and continuing employment suitable for a high-skill economy and newly emerging forms of employment.

A well-designed TVET/TVSD system should therefore both promote social skills and high-level technical skills. The speed and scale of change calls for a broad transformation of TVET institutions by bringing innovative financing approaches and delivery and involving different types of public and private stakeholders. It can be taken in different forms and be found in formal, non-formal and informal settings. According to UNESCO-UNIVOC, the innovative practices in TVET should take in consideration organizational practices that include internal monitoring and communication, the ecosystem of internal and external actors, teaching and learning processes, and  the development and provision of non traditional TVSD products and services.

II. ADEA’S Intervention in the TVSD Space

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) provides important fora for policy dialogue that promote innovative policies and practices among actors. ADEA also ensures that the recommendations stemming from these discourses are translated into concrete actions. One of the key initiatives set up by the Association was to establish a platform called Inter-Country Quality Nodes (ICQNs) that bring together African countries facing a similar challenge and strategic partners with expertise in the specific field. Specific Ministries of Education lead this ICQNs and to date, ADEA has nine including one on Technical and Vocational Skills Development led by Côte d’Ivoire.

ADEA has undertaken several interventions supporting technical and vocational skills development (TVSD) in Africa. First in terms of policy and technical discourse on skills development through high-level policy dialogue forums on education. The Biennale in Maputo (2008) dedicated a sub-theme on “Transition from school to work”, reaffirmed the critical role of TVET (mostly associated with the formal school system, with marginal links to non-formal and informal training sectors) in skills acquisition and economic development and recommended a paradigm shift to TVSD (holistic and inclusive, taking into account lifelong learning imperatives).[3] As a follow up to the recommendation, the Triennale in Ouagadougou (2012) discussed “Lifelong TVSD for sustainable socio-economic growth in Africa” as a sub-theme, while the first sub-theme for the 2017 Triennale in Dakar was on “Implementing education and lifelong learning for sustainable development”. These three flagship events informed the development of the respective ADEA medium term strategic plans. Discussions during the 2019 High Level Policy Dialogue Forum in Johannesburg around "Reforming Secondary Education to prepare youth for future work” explore strategies for creating pathways between general secondary education and technical and vocational education.

The Inter-Country Quality Node (ICQN) on TVSD has undertaken several capacity building and analytical work in Africa that fed into the high-level policy dialogue forums. These include the education-training-work continuum; policy and governance of TVSD systems; multi-stakeholder partnerships; access, participation and equity for girls in post-conflict and informal sectors; quality, relevance and employability; assessment, validation and certification through NQFs development & relevance to lifelong learning and recognition of prior learning; and financing of vocational training.

III. Objectives of the Supply Study Research 

ADEA plans to organize in 2020 or 2021 depending on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, a High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum on “Rethinking the role of Technical and Vocational Skills Development in future work and lifelong learning, in light of digitalization and 4IR”. Policy dialogue forums are a tool ADEA uses to stay on top of key issues affecting education or providing a space to share rapid insights and exchange on critical questions in the education sector. They contribute to empowering African countries to develop education and training systems that respond to their emerging national needs and drive sustainable socio-economic transformation. In preparation of this High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum; and in order to support countries to adapt their TVET/TVSD to meet the challenges of the future of work with focus on digitalization.  Thus, ADEA has decided to undertake this study on TVSD supply side to contribute to the planned “ADEA 2020/2021 High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum”. The study will be carried out in 10 countries (2 per Regional Economic Commissions (RECs)). 

The specific objectives of the study are to assess the readiness of TVET/TVSD provision on the supply side in the selected countries to address the skills required by the digitalization of the world of work and also the barriers to the development and implementation of innovative practices in TVET/TVSD.  The assessment will cover the TVET/TVSD ecosystem dimension, with a specific focus on policy, institutional and system levels, including human resource, program management, teaching and learning processes, institutions and their learning environments, and training providers, and the  products and services offered by TVSD development. 

IV. Scope of Work

The study will be cognizant of the recent phenomenon of the industrialization of African countries and the digital economy as well as the current African Union Agenda 2063 of the “Africa We Want” and the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goals 4 and 8. In that that regard, the study will cover main following questions: 

  1. How can digital skills be integrated into technical and vocational training in the era of the 4IR with cascading effect to help advance access and quality for learners in an inclusive manner?
  2. How can we increase the transferability of qualifications and mobility of vocational skills across sectors?
  3. How can we address teachers/trainers’ preparedness through innovative and relevant training programs? What are the mitigating strategies for the low status challenge of the TVSD trainer profession? How can we enhance the status of the profession through professionalization of individual’s teachers/trainers with support from TVSD institutions and partners? How can their role go beyond teaching vocational practice to engaging in social and economic development of the sector?
  4. What strategies should governments put in place to change the general negative social perception of TVSD as an inferior option and a 'second-class' education, which fosters its stigmatization and marginalization as a low-status track for poor academic achievers in many African countries?

V. Proposed Methodology4

  1. Assess the current context of each of the selected countries
    • Vision, policy and strategy
    • Economic Development Plan and Education Sector Strategic Plan – level of prioritization of TVSD
    • TVSD regulation and quality assurance including qualifications framework
    • Available statistics (enrolment rate, gender equity, )  
    • Existing TVSD training delivery systems (formal, informal, non-formal, recognition of prior learning)
    • Existing TVSD trainers career development policy and practice
    • Distribution of TVSD training providers (public versus private, urban versus rural, basic versus higher…)
    • Existing tracer studies and employer satisfaction surveys to measure quality and relevance of existing training programs
  2. Analyse the practices (moving from policy/strategy to implementation)
    • Performance review of the TVSD system delivery: (i) Trainers proficiency; (ii) Infrastructure and equipment; (iii) Use of digital technology; (iv) Alternative financing mechanisms to increase access, quality and relevance; (v)  Gender equity including incentives to promote gender in TVSD; (vi) Level of private sector involvement in TVSD delivery through public-private-partnerships.
  3. Identify the innovative solutions/approaches to improve access, quality and relevance especially those that rely on digital technology
  4. Identify cross-border collaborations/partnership to promote TVSD using digital technology 

VI. Expected Outputs

  • The current TVSD context of each of the selected countries assessed.
  • The TVSD practices (moving from policy/strategy to implementation) analysed.
  • The innovative solutions/approaches to improve access, quality and relevance especially those that rely on digital technology Identified.
  • Cross-border collaborations/partnership to promote TVSD using digital technology identified.

VII. Deliverables

A comprehensive report which should include:

  1. Baseline information on the current context and level of TVSD development of each of the selected countries;
  2. Synthesis of the  current context and level of TVSD development by REC;
  3. Analysis and assessment of the practices (moving from policy/strategy to implementation);
  4. Innovative solutions/approaches to improve access, quality and relevance especially those that rely on digital technology;
  5. Cross-border collaborations/partnership to promote TVSD using digital technology;
  6. Recommendations on innovative solutions, lessons learnt and gaps both in policy and practices in addressing unemployment issues through digital technologies. 

VIII. Selection of Countries 

In collaboration with the ICQN on TVSD, ADEA will identify 10 African countries (2 per REC) with a balance between advanced and less advanced countries in terms of TVSD delivery.

IX. Consultant's Profile 

  • A senior education expert with a minimum of 5 years of proven experience in TVSD/TVET in Africa and having already done similar work. 
  • Proven sound knowledge of TVSD and innovation issues within the continent
  • Experience in project and /or institution diagnostic/ assessment of TVSD in Africa 
  • Experience in working with governments, continental/ international development agencies, private sector or conducting analysis on TVSD supply.
  • Experience in regional analysis or research on digitalization and TVSD; 
  • Fluency in English and French, with excellent oral and writing skills
  • Sound ICT knowledge. 

X. Timeline

 25th May to 3rd July 2020.

XI. Submission of Applications 

Applications (CV and Cover Letter) should be sent to no later than 5th May 2020 at midnight (12:00am) GMT. The subject of the e-mail should be “ADEA Research/Study on TVSD Supply Side”.

Due to the probability of high volume of applications, only selected candidates will be contacted through a formal correspondence via email. Please do not contact ADEA or staff members to enquire about the status of your application.


[2] Source: AFDB Jobs for Youth in Africa 

[3] TVSD acknowledges the diversity of skills provision and training pathways; recognizes skills acquired from different learning and work situations; is non-discriminatory with regard to age, status and type of learning environment; and addresses issues relating to transition from school/training to work and on-the-job skills acquisition.

[4] The consultant has the freedom to improve the proposed methodology in his/her technical offer