In 2008, the Government of Ethiopia initiated a fundamental reform of the TVET system according to the principles of competency-based training and industry-training partnership. The reform was aimed at creating a competent, motivated, employable, adaptable and innovative workforce capable of contributing to the socio-economic development of Ethiopia. To realize its goal, the government opted for the large-scale involvement of many stakeholders, among which enterprises are supposed to play a key role, such as contributing to the development of the occupational standards, delivering cooperative training, and conducting occupational assessment and certification. Over 690 occupational standards, 380 curricula, and 545 assessment tools have been developed as of June 2017, and many more are expected to be developed in 2018. According to government statistics, enrollments in TVET programs had grown to over two million in 2014, whereas the number of TVET institutions increased almost 80 times from 17 to more than 1,300. Despite government efforts to invest in TVET and promote enterprise-based training, learning levels are still poor.
As the country ranks as the second largest Foreign Direct Investment destination among Least Developed Countries, the Government of Ethiopia intends to export up to 30 billion US dollars of garment and textiles products by 2025 and consolidate Ethiopia as the leading apparel and textile manufacturing hub in Africa. Alongside the government effort in achieving economic growth and poverty reduction through job creation, SKY Team launched a research project on Industrial Skills Development and Skills Assessment in Ethiopia. The project investigates the efficient means of preparing the workforce for the world of work, with a specific focus on skills assessment. During the initial phase of the research project in 2016, the team developed a skills assessment module to measure vocational skills in garment production, and then implemented a small-scale skills assessment in Addis Ababa to test the assessment module. During this phase, the team conducted a pilot study in 7 TVET colleges and 35 garment factories to compare various dimensions of skills among different stakeholders. On August 28th, 2017, the team organized a symposium, in collaboration with the Federal TVET Institute of Ethiopia, to disseminate the findings of the initial phase of the research project and assess the feasibility of a larger-scale skills assessment.