Vancouver Island University (VIU) is working to develop trades training programs for Kenyan schools as part of the Mastercard Foundation’s five-year Young Africa Works in Kenya-TVET initiative.
The initiative focuses on encouraging young Kenyans, particularly underrepresented groups like women, to enter workforce training programs.
VIU is one of 15 Canadian post-secondary institutions participating in this new initiative created in partnership with Colleges and Institutes Canada and the Mastercard Foundation.
For VIU’s portion of the initiative it will be collaborating with Durham College and Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning as part of a $360,000 project to strengthen and support technical and vocational education and training at three Kenyan institutions: The Kisumu National Polytechnic, The Sigalagala National Polytechnic and Kisii National Polytechnic.
Darrell Harvey, manager of global engagement for VIU, explained the school specifically plans to build on its long-time relationship with Kisii to develop trades training programs for in-demand construction careers.
Harvey explained that VIU has spent more than four years working with Kisii to develop similar programs through various partnerships.
“Oftentimes it is the academic side that gets intercultural opportunities,” said Harvey. “Students and faculty in the trades don’t always get those opportunities. We have made it a focus to get them involved in these things.”
He noted that Kisii is the same size as VIU and also grew from offering smaller vocational training into a larger polytechnic institution.
VIU first started assisting Kisii with its building artisan program, which focuses on training students in several foundational trades so students can begin working or go on to further training.
“Our faculty members worked with instructors to develop the curriculum and taught about competency-based training and using a more pedagogical approach,” said Harvey, who noted that in the past, much of the training had focused on theory, leaving the students to do much of their hands-on training at a jobsite.
VIU has also worked to help outfit Kisii with equipment to facilitate hands-on training.
Harvey said that now that Kenya’s construction sector is ramping up, requiring more complex trades, it will use the TVET initiative to develop programs for more complex trades, starting with electricians.
“In their region there is a building boom and significant demand for skilled tradespeople,” said Harvey.
He noted it is also an excellent opportunity for VIU instructors to expand their cultural knowledge and learn how construction in other countries is done.
He explained in Kenya much more buildings are made with masonry, leaving carpenters to often focus on other things, like interior work of furniture. There is also a large demand to modify shipping containers into businesses spaces which requires all sorts of special knowledge.
“They learn a ton and then they can bring that back to the classroom,” said Harvey.
He added VIU is excited about the next five years and beyond.
“For VIU these relationships often come with funding cycles, but our goal is to build out these relationships so others can engage in this.”
Harvey noted for the past 15 years VIU has focused on similar international projects in other parts of Africa, South America and Ukraine.
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