Skilled youths key drivers of economy – expert


THE International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has called for aggressive funding of youth informal skills as they are key drivers and contributors of all economic sectors.

IDRC senior programme officer Paul Okwi observed that unlike South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, Zambia and Malawi had not been aggressive in funding the informal skills sector, hence lagging behind in development which came with informal employment.

Dr Okwi was speaking at a research workshop on Skills for employment: Scaling-up technical and vocational training in Africa, in Lusaka.

“Zambia has a lot of opportunities for career promotion  in the informal sector. It just needs effective policy formulation. Zambia needs to be very aggressive in accessing funds for development of the informal skills,” he said.He said the large population in Africa comprised unemployed youth who could contribute to national development once they were equipped with both informal and formal skills.

Dr Okwi explained that most youths did not have higher education but had knowledge acquired from vocational institutions henced perceived as failures.

“There are lots of opportunities to train youths here in Zambia by coming up with many initiatives which supported them with skills. These are the key drivers of all economic sectors; contributors of economic growth are not necessarily those people with PhDs, but those who have gone through vocational institutions,” he said.He challenged the Government to re-think on vocational training policies which would support the informal sector.Dr Okwi also advised the Government to always consult the private sector on the kind of students it needed as it was one of the largest employers.

“Both the public and private sectors need each other to develop the economy and promote skills for our youths. The private sector needs the public sector for policy formulation and implementation,” he said.

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