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Training vouchers for Jua Kali enterprises in Kenya
The Micro and Small Enterprise and Technology Project in Kenya incorporates many of the key features of the Bank's overall approach to VET. The provision of training vouchers to 60,000 entrepreneurs and workers among already established jua kali (hot sun) manufacturing enterprises is the main mechanism for improving skill levels. The total cost of the project is US21.83 million over a six year period (1994/95 - 2000/01).
Training vouchers are at the cutting edge of pro-market education and training reforms in the North. The use of vouchers in Kenya is intended to promote private sector training provision while building on traditional forms of apprenticeship and other forms of enterprise-based training in the informal sector and encouraging cost recovery even amongst the poorest. Thus, the project attempts to combine both poverty reduction and private sector development objectives. The project envisages a "downsized and more focused role" for the main ministry responsible for the Jua Kali sector. The original intention was that Jua Kali associations would themselves be given responsibility for the distribution of vouchers to their members.
Little information is available on the outputs of the project to date. However, soon after the project became operational, it became clear that, as a result of conflicts within and between the jua kali associations along with other institutional weaknesses, other mechanisms would have to be found to manage the distribution of training vouchers.
More generally, the use of training vouchers raises many of the same concerns and criticisms that have been expressed about education and training vouchers elsewhere. Market failure in the provision of a service is especially likely when there is low frequency of purchase, high costs of making mistakes relative to the buyer's income (including opportunity costs), an inability to judge product quality, and high cost of buyer mobility.
All these factors could undermine the implementation of VET voucher schemes for the informal sector in developing country contexts. For them to function properly, it is not only essential that consumers are well informed about the training that is being offered, but also are faced with real choices between training providers. In most rural areas, in particular, the number of accredited training centres is likely to be very limited and widely dispersed which seriously pre-empts any serious choice among informal sector operators, apprentices and other workers. Finally, it is again doubtful that the poorest will be able or willing to utilise training vouchers, especially where there is some element (even very small) of cost recovery.
Sources: World Bank, 1995; Bennell, 1996.
EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING
Learning to change: Skills
development among the
economically vulnerable and
socially excluded in
Employment and Training Department
International Labour Office Geneva
First published 1999
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References: Learning to change: Skills development among the economically vulnerable and socially excluded in developing countries
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