Building a competent workforce for Kenyan industries

Photo credit: KAM

By Evans Ongwae


Traditionally, technical students have undergone skills training after the completion of their theoretical classes. However, this concept is being modified to incorporate a work-based learning environment. In this case, a student spends half of their learning period in a physical or hybrid class, while the other half is spent in industries or companies, thus the name “Cooperative TVET”.

What KAM is doing

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), with the support of German Development Cooperation and the Government of Kenya, has been carrying out this programme in the country since 2017. The programme enhances skills development by providing a pool of technically skilled personnel at entry and middle-level to industry, to reduce the skills mismatch and gaps in the manufacturing sector’s workforce.

As part of the programme, KAM works with seven Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions in Nairobi, Kiambu, Kisumu, Kitale, Busia, and Nyamira counties, to reduce skills mismatch and increase productivity.

KAM has been at the forefront of championing the TVET programme by coordinating awareness and roundtable stakeholders’ forums, to engage its members to participate in the training across the country. Under the programme, the Government improves access to training and ensures quality and relevant curricula, whereas the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), supports the seven national training institutions to upgrade to centres of excellence. This is done through support for developing a training curriculum and capacity building for trainers.

The Association has also been able to link industry resource persons to technical training institutions for industry and in-person upskilling.

Companies in Kenya often mention a skills mismatch between training at the institutions and what the industry currently requires. Therefore, this training model seeks to address this challenge and to align with the Competence-Based Education and Training (CBET) curriculum implementation.

The curriculum defines, steers and helps achieve competence standards within the national qualifications framework. It also promotes collaboration between the private sector and training institutions to develop innovative solutions that prepare trainees better for the world of work.

The Cooperative TVET Model, also known as dual training, provides young TVET graduates with opportunities for practical learning, thus giving them an edge in the labour market. Through this model of training, the industry receives qualified technicians who meet the specific skills companies require.

The programme allows companies to participate in the training of technical personnel, thereby addressing the specific needs required by the industry. Additionally, the training reduces the time and cost of hiring or retraining new employees, leading to a high return on investment in the future.

So far, more than 30 companies have absorbed 200 students as trainees for work-based learning, and are awaiting another cohort in early 2023. These students comprise trainees currently in industry and in the technical training institution block.

The private sector plays an invaluable role in the development of occupational standards and curriculum, thus ensuring the training content is in line with industry requirements. Additionally, companies provide graduates with an opportunity for on-the-job training. Furthermore, the private sector supports competency assessment and plays an influential role in the formulation and oversight of policies and forecasting of labour demands.

KAM also facilitates knowledge transfer and capacity building of technical training institutes staff through study tours and company visits.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) CEO Anthony Mwangi.

Photo credit: KAM

Support by GIZ

GIZ supports Kenya’s Cooperative TVET Programme, which combines learning at a TTI with industrial experience and mentorship offered through in-company training. This model of training encourages stronger collaboration between technical training institutions and private sector companies.

Training institutions

A total of seven technical training institutions were identified for the implementation of this pilot programme. They are:

  • Nairobi Technical Training Institute: Automotive Mechatronics (Level 6).
  • Thika Technical Training Institute: Autobody Technology (Level 6).
  • Kiambu Institute of Science & Technology: Industrial Mechatronics (Level 6).
  • Bumbe Technical Training Institute: Automotive Technology (Level 5).
  • Ekerubo Gietai Technical Training Institute: Mechanical Plant Technician (Level 6).
  • Kitale National Level Polytechnic: Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Mechatronics (Level 5).
  • Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology: Refrigeration and Air conditioning (Level 5).


On completion, students will receive a national CBET certificate from the Kenyan government, with the option of a C-Level Certificate offered by the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce for Eastern Africa (AHK).

Role of the German Development Cooperation

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through its implementing agencies, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and German Development Bank (KfW), supports the training institutions in the development of training curricula, capacity-building for trainers, and the construction of new workshops with state-of-the-art training equipment, to make learning a hands-on experience.

How a company can join

If interested to participate in the programme, kindly send an email to:



When learning involves industry: The case of KIST

Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) is one of the seven institutions implementing the cooperative (dual) TVET model. Through this, it is contributing to the national efforts to bridge the skills gap between work and education.

The Industrial Mechatronics Diploma programme at KIST is designed to have students spend three months at the training institute and three months in industry alternately, for a total of eight training blocks.

The Institute plays a key role in designing and developing the curriculum in close cooperation with industry, and trains the students while at the Institute block (implementing the TTI-based training) as well as acting as the link between companies and students.

Specific skills development that takes place in the institute enhances the graduate’s employability as a result of gaining both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

KIST has partnered with GIZ, a German service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work.

GIZ offers technical cooperation support while the German Development Bank (KfW) provides financial support through the Ministry.

KIST, GIZ, KfW and the private sector partners endeavour to work together to support and promote a high-quality technical and vocational training programme in industrial mechatronics.

The collaborating companies that mentor the students and conduct the industry training are key players in the process, because without their involvement, training in the workplace would not be possible.

The companies conduct training for trainers and are involved in developing curricula. They also offer traineeships and provide expertise to the students. 

The cooperative training approach has a significant impact on the promotion of youth employment and guarantees a skilled workforce, which is a prerequisite for a successful economy. It also promotes collaboration between the private sector and training institutions to develop innovative solutions that better prepare trainees for the world of work.

Positive results of cooperative training have been identified in Europe, especially Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and France, among others. The same effect is expected in developing countries that have adopted this system, such as Kenya.

The outcomes expected from this training include:

  • Facilitating the acquisition of skills required in the labour market.
  • Promoting market-oriented training.
  • Reduced youth unemployment.
  • Strengthened academia–industry linkages.
  • Reduced training and hiring costs by companies.

Presently, KIST has 70 students under the dual training programme. Ann Njeri Njoroge, 22, is among these trainees. A third-year Diploma in Industrial Mechatronics student, she is expected to also train at the industrial firm, Krones, in Ruiru.

“Krones manufactures industrial machines, and while there, I believe I will gain competence in the mechatronics field. I will interact with actual machines in an industrial setting and so, I will know how to troubleshoot any problem affecting the machines. I believe this will make me highly employable,” she says.


For more information about KAM and its TVET initiatives, visit


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