Skills Initiative for Africa

Project description

Project title: Skills Initiative for Africa
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Africa (supraregional)
Lead executing agency: African Union (AU), represented by the AU Commission (AUC); implementation by the Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
Overall term: 2016 – 2019

© GIZ / Ute Grabowsky;


Growing youth unemployment in Africa poses a fundamental challenge for the entire continent. Some 60 per cent of Africa’s jobless are under the age of 25, and a very high proportion them are young women. Many African countries do not provide a sufficient range of practice-oriented technical and vocational education and training services (TVET). And yet, access to good quality TVET and appropriate job opportunities is vital to reducing poverty, ensuring political stability, promoting sustainable development and enabling social participation.

Many countries in Africa are facing similar TVET challenges. Moreover, the private sector hardly has any say in the design and implementation of TVET measures. As a result, young people are not being trained to meet real workplace demands, leaving them with skills that fall short of company requirements. Essentially, TVET’s poor quality is due to the inadequate training the teachers get and to the outdated, heavily theory-based subject matter being taught. Furthermore, women, the poor and rural inhabitants often have no access to vocational training at all.

Aware of the importance of job-market-oriented TVET, a lot of African countries have already rolled out national initiatives full of innovative approaches intended to improve the TVET system. However, due to the lack of dialogue formats and promotion mechanisms, these nationally tried-and-tested approaches have not been disseminated much throughout the continent.


The Skills Initiative for Africa promotes the dissemination of innovative approaches for practice-oriented TVET in Africa. By helping to improve the economic and social prospects of young people on the African continent, it is addressing one of the causes of economic migration.


At the continental level, the Skills Initiative supports institutions of the African Union. In individual pilot countries, it promotes innovative, practice-oriented approaches to vocational training conducted in close cooperation with the private sector.

The project team supports the Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) of the AU’s NEPAD economic development programme – the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The NPCA is mandated to implement projects on behalf of the African Union. Together, NPCA and the project identify good TVET practices and experiences in selected countries in Africa. Furthermore, the project trains NPCA staff and advises them on how to go about establishing the structures they need to promote TVET approaches and monitor their implementation. Also, a fund backed by German financial cooperation is on hand to expand vocational training approaches that offer regional value added. The partners disseminate best TVET practices through an Africa-wide dialogue on vocational training that networks stakeholders and gives them an opportunity to exchange their learning experiences at conferences, dialogue events and through other knowledge sharing formats. Furthermore, the AU Commission’s dialogue format is also driving forward the development of an Africa-wide vocational training strategy.