Today, caused by the pandemic of COVID-19 across the world, the movement of people and economic activities are greatly restricted. In any industry, it is urgently needed to establish mechanisms in which the business can be progressed virtually without face-to-face interactions. If this situation continues, it may also be a serious challenge to the conventional mode of international cooperation, in which the experts travel internationally to developing countries to provide technical support directly.
SKY Project has conducted skills assessments of industrial workers in developing countries since 2015, as a means of mitigating the mismatch between the training and employment of the skilled workforce. In Africa, where we mostly work, many national governments invest a large part of their budget to human resources development, aiming to drive economic growth with that sector. However, despite the devoted resources, the workforces trained at the governmental education institutions are often criticized for not having the skills required in industry or for not obtaining employment in the sectors for which they are trained. Because of the prevalence of these supply-demand gaps, SKY Project’s activities have been appreciated for identifying the actual content and degree of skills gaps while proposing realistic policy measures.
For example, in Ethiopia, we have established close working relationships with various government bodies, including the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Ministry of Industry. We co-hosted an international symposium with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in 2018, and our proposals are cited as a background of the policy document named the Education Roadmap. Also, starting from this year, SKY Project will start to develop a training program for Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs), in collaboration with the Ethiopia KAIZEN Institute and Federal TVET Agency, with the financial support of JICA.
In Ghana, we planned to host a symposium to share the findings from the skills assessment conducted in 2019 with TVET students and workers in SMEs and the informal sector.
Just in the middle of these activities and favourable partnerships with governments and other stakeholders, the COVID-19 pandemic has occurred. Of course, the planned activities will be resumed as the situation calms down. At the same time, it would be important for us to make this an opportunity for improvement, rather than on of simple damage. As a research-based development partner based in a university setting, SKY Project is going to considering how to provide our services while meeting contemporary conditions and demands.