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11 February 2019

WorldSkills and African Union improve access to skills development

An exciting new vision for skills training in Africa is at the heart of a historic agreement between WorldSkills International and the African Union.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed on 7 February brings the two organizations together in a major initiative to improve access and raise the standards of training for millions of young people in a part of the world where both are much needed.

It recognizes the importance of Africa as a region where WorldSkills can play a crucial role through its expertise, working with Members, Global Partners, and other international organizations.

Among the key proposals are regional skills competitions for Africa to be held in years when WorldSkills Competition is not being held and projects that focus on capacity building and skills promotion during the WorldSkills Competition year.

Last November the first WorldSkills Africa Competition was held in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, with six countries competing in seven skills competitions over two and half days.

The MoU will move forward the development of WorldSkills Africa as an umbrella organization that will have a permanent team overseen by the African Union and WorldSkills International for skills development and promotion in the continent. This includes the biennial regional skills competitions and projects that help empower and inspire African youth to pursue personal and economic fulfillment through the WorldSkills movement.

The agreement will also draw on the support of WorldSkills Global Partners and international development organizations to promote specific projects, conduct research on the skills needed for the African labour market and the way that they can be best developed, and initiate more regional competitions.

Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission said the agreement was, "A significant milestone in our ongoing collaboration. For years, WorldSkills International have directed their focus and expertise on fostering skills excellence, raising the profile and recognition of skilled people, and showing how important skills are in achieving economic growth.”

“The African Union Commission’s participation at WorldSkills Africa 2018 in Kigali last November was our first concrete engagement under this partnership and now is the right moment to strengthen our cooperation and enhance skills development in Africa.”

The agreement matches both the objectives of WorldSkills Vision 2025, and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which aims to create high level Technical and Vocational Educations and Training (TVET) centres across Africa and build closer links with industry by aligning with the demands of future labour markets.

Simon Bartley, President of WorldSkills said, “Our ambition for the youth of the world and the youth for Africa aligns with the goals of the African Union for forming this important partnership with WorldSkills.”

“For the past 10 years, WorldSkills has understood that we can’t call ourselves a global organization unless that includes a significant element of Africa.”

Grace Lung, the Senior Manager of Partnership Programmes for WorldSkills said that at present only 6 of the 80 WorldSkills Member countries and regions are in Africa.

“Many countries, in what is still one of the poorest regions in the world, do not have the resources to adopt the traditional model of joining WorldSkills. We need to work closely with important partners like the African Union to provide support and solutions that are driven by the beneficiaries and that works for Africa.”

The MoU will build on the foundations of last year’s competition in Kigali, with WorldSkills Experts working to train their Africa counterparts to create an African team of Experts and partnership network.

The long-term goal is for more African countries to compete as Members, but with the potential for a WorldSkills Africa team to take part in WorldSkills Competitions for countries that did not have the resources to do so alone.