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17 February 2024

WorldSkills Africa launched today

The 37th Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union was the setting for the official launch of WorldSkills Africa – a pioneering platform for skills.

Saturday, 17 February 2024 marked a pivotal milestone for skills development. During an exciting week of commitments to transform African education systems, delegates at the 37th Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union were invited to celebrate the official launch of WorldSkills Africa, a ground-breaking initiative dedicated to advancing Vocational Education and Training (VET) across the continent.

The official launch took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the Summit which is held every year to discuss the future of regional and continental development. Mrs Nardos Bekele Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), hailed the launch of WorldSkills Africa as a flagship to implement the objectives of the Continental TVET strategy. “Africa has great potential, but in order to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063 for a prosperous and inclusive society and economy, Africa needs skills. WorldSkills Africa will benefit young people to gain theoretical, practical as well as requisite work-based life-skills needed for the world of work, to drive our economies”.

Echoing this celebratory tone, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, President of Zambia said “WorldSkills Africa is a strategic platform for us to nurture and showcase young people’s skills and talent. As we work towards the realization of agenda 2063, WorldSkills Africa will serve as a catalyst for continental cooperation, fostering partnerships and knowledge exchange that transcend borders and boundaries.” The next WorldSkills Africa Competition will take place in Livingstone, Zambia in 2025.

As next steps, the AUDA-NEPAD will serve as Secretariat and work towards the mobilization of African countries to become Members of this new regional platform for skills. The launch was witnessed by Heads of State, government officials, policy makers, industry leaders, along with representatives from the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and the WorldSkills community.

Prof Mohammed Belhocine, Commissioner Education Science Technology and Innovation at the African Union Commission congratulated the AUDA-NEPAD for implementing the decisions of the 4th Specialized Technical Committee of the Ministers of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, and called on African countries to take advantage of this platform for exchange of best practices and benchmarking, to improve links between Vocational Education and Training and market demands across the region.

The timing could not have been more perfect, as it coincided with the African Union declaring the theme for 2024 as, “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa.” Addressing the audience by video message, Chris Humphries, Chair of WorldSkills, said, “Africa is a continent in its ascendance, with the youngest population and some of the fastest growing economies. It is full of potential and possibility. By officially launching WorldSkills Africa today we can accelerate each of your own national skill journeys.”

He continued, “We are confident that WorldSkills Africa will help you reimagine your VET systems, so they support economic growth and productivity. It can help build capacity among your educators and trainers. And it will make it easier for young people to develop their skills, raise their ambition, and thrive.”

Today’s official launch of WorldSkills Africa is exactly five years after AUC, AUDA-NEPAD, and WorldSkills International signed a Memorandum of Understanding for its establishment back in February 2019. The anniversary was noted by San-Quei Lin, WorldSkills Board member, who said, “The groundswell of support for skills in Africa proved to us that we needed something more formal, more established, and on a greater scale. Now, five years later, and after a huge amount of work and cooperation between the African Union Commission and the African Union Development Agency and all of you, we can say with pride that the day has arrived.”

He also called on delegates gathered to commend all that has been achieved so far, saying, “Today, I invite you all to take a moment to recognize your individual achievements and acknowledge the great strides we have made. The formation of WorldSkills Africa is a significant milestone and an important step on our journey to transform education and skills in Africa.”

The establishment of WorldSkills Africa is another vital example of Africa’s commitment to achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth as outlined in Agenda 2063, a visionary framework for Africa’s future, encompassing seven aspirations designed to unlock Africa’s potential by 2063. WorldSkills Africa is most closely aligned to Aspiration 6 which aims to create a people-driven Africa that harnesses the talent of all Africans, especially women and youth. 

The official launch culminated with a call for more African Union Member States to join WorldSkills Africa and accelerate their own journey to transform VET systems for the better. Dr Langat, Official Delegate of WorldSkills Kenya endorsed the benefits of being part of the WorldSkills community, saying, “Exposing our trainers and learners to the competitions, helps us to improve the quality of the TVET system as well as puts Kenya on the global map of skilled workforce.”