Sub-Saharan Africa Skills and Apprenticeship Stakeholders Network (SASASNET), in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has concluded a 2-day African Regional Capacity Building Workshop on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and Sector Skills Bodies (SSB) for its members countries on 21-22 November, 2023 in the Accra, Ghana.

This regional workshop, which attracted more than 90 participants from SASASNET member countries in sub-Saharan Africa, was the first in a line-up of activities following the formal launch of this continental organisation in Abuja in July this year.

“The workshop was organised to enhance the capacity of policy makers and regulators from government, members of skills councils, TVET authorities and training providers, social partners, practitioners, and experts on global initiatives and best practices in RPL and Sector Skills Councils/Bodies,” said Hon. Ousman Sillah, Secretary General (SG) of SASASNET.

SASASNET has acknowledged the importance of RPL and SSC as two critical approaches or mechanism that can effectively and adequately address the challenges being faced in the development of skills and apprenticeship in Africa.

Hon. Sillah said SASASNET has realised that the informal economy dominates most of the African countries comprising more than 85 percent of the skilled workforce, adding that a vast majority of workers in the informal economy acquire workplace skills by informal means and do not have qualifications. It is this absence of qualifications, he said, that renders the uncertificated skilled workers susceptible to severe disadvantages as far as finding decent jobs, migrating to other regions, and accessing further education and training.

SG Sillah said SASASNET has noted that one of the critical components for the transition from informal to formal economy is the certification of competences of Master Craft Persons through the RPL but that unfortunatelymost formal education and training systems are not made to recognise non-formal and informal learning. “This is the reason why many countries have now initiated steps towards establishing RPL systems although the majority are facing challenges in its successful implementation,” said Hon. Sillah.

As for the Sector Skills Bodies (SSBs) or Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) as called in some jurisdictions, SG the SASASNET SG said these are organisations that are created with the aim of bridging the gap between skills demand and supply within a specific skill sector and that they bring together key stakeholders, such as employers, workers’ organisations, enterprises, and educational and training institutions, to identify and address the sector’s skills needs. He however noted that many countries are facing challenges in establishing and sustaining SSBs.

SG Sillah said it is against this backdrop that SASASNET considers it necessary to address these two crucial challenges by organisingthis regional capacity building workshop to discuss them and explore good practices and success factors for establishing and sustaining effective RPL and SSB systems.

The workshop was officially opened by Mr. David Prah, the Deputy Director General of the Ghana TVET Service, who ably represented his Director General.

During the opening ceremony, statements were delivered by Prof. Idris M. Bugaje, Chairperson of SASASNET, read on his behalf by Engr. ADK Mohammed, Project Director, National Board for Technical Education, Ms. Vanessa Phala, ILO Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone and Liaison for ECOWAS.

The sessions were facilitated by Dr. Ashwani Aggarwal, Workgroup Leader (Skills Policy, Systems and Digitalization), ILO – Geneva and Martin-Christian Kent, ILO – Geneva.

Presentations on Sector Skills Bodies were made by Anthony Morrison, Chairperson, Agri-Business Sector Skills Body, Ghana, Ved Mani Tiwari, CEO, National Skills Development Corporation, India, Mr. Thabo Mashongoane, CEO, Mining Qualification Authority (MQA), South Africa, and Engr. Dr. Samson A. Opaluwah, Chairman Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria {CORBON}. While presentations on RPL were given by Norman Letsoalo, INDLELA, DHET, South Africa, Dr. KaylashAllgoo, Mauritius, and Ved Mani Tiwari, CEO, National Skills Development Corporation, India.

During the opening ceremony, Hon. Sillah, presented SASASNET acknowledgment plaques in recognition of the support given to the Network by partners namely Dr. Aggarwal of the ILO, Ms. Vanessa Phala, ILO Country Director, the Government of the Republic of Ghana through the TVET Service and Ministry of Education and Dr. Teshome Lemma Wodajo, a former Minster of Labour in Ethiopia and now the Advisor to the Minister as well as the Focal Person of SASASNET.