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NITA: Streamlining Quality Assurance in Industrial Training

The National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) is a State Corporation which regulates the training of persons engaged in industry while managing apprenticeship and industrial training. NITA is responsible for Industrial training, assessing and collecting industrial training levy and fees; Regulating trainers registered under section 7c; Developing industrial training curricula; Integrating labour market information into skills development; Harmonizing curricula and certificates of competence. The regulator also assesses industrial training, tests occupational skills and awards certificates which include government trade test certificates. The Authority also equates certificates and accredits institutions engaged in skills training for industry as Corporate Watch Magazine’s Ker Mogallo found out in an interview with Stephen Ogenga (MIEEE, FIET-K). Director General, NITA.

 

With a Vision to be “globally competitive and provide adequate workforce for industrial development” and a mission “to regulate and facilitate quality industrial training for enhanced productivity, the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) is setting standards in industrial training.

The institutions Core Values include customer focus, continuous improvement, stakeholders involvement, creativity and innovation, transparency and accountability, quality, equity and access which have propelled the authority to greater heights over the years.

Towards a better institution…

In an exclusive interview, the Corporate Watch Magazine established that KRA and NITA developed the Unified Payroll Return (UPR) for joint declaration and payment of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Industrial Training Levy (Levy) Contributions that was rolled out to all employers starting with the payroll month of December, 2020. This effectively made levy contribution to be paid annually by the 9th of the subsequent month following the end of the employer’s accounting period/financial year at the rate of Kshs. 600 per employee per annum thus enhancing efficiency.

‘The current upgrading of NITA’s Industrial Training Centres is intended to enhance service delivery to the industry. The ITCs host a number of industry-oriented courses targeting workers in the formal and informal/Jua Kali sectors. There are both short-term and long-term training programmes which are either regular, skill upgrading, and apprenticeship programmes,’ noted NITA Director General Stephen Ogenga (MIEEE, FIET-K) .

He added that NITA in partnership with institutions such as the Kenya Qualifications Authority heavily contributed to the development of the 1st draft Recognition of Prior Learning Policy and implementation guidelines in line with the Presidential directive on RPL. This subsequently provided an opportunity for many skilled workers in the formal and informal sector who possess requisite skills but lack the necessary certification to come forth and receive nationally recognized certificates.

NITA has equally spearheaded the Kenya Youth Employment Opportunity Project (KYEOP) by successfully implementing Component I of the Kenya Youth Employment Opportunity Project (KYEOP). So far 3 cycles have been implemented. Cycle four trade selection was done on 14th January 2020 for Kilifi, Kiambu and Kakamega counties and it is expected 18,000 youth will benefit in cycle 4.

Meanwhile in Mombasa, the government of Kenya received a grant from the republic of South Korea under the project “Capacity Development of National Industrial Training Authority – Mombasa” the project included refurbishment of training facilities at NITA Mombasa, supply of modern training equipment and training of NITA management and trainers. Currently, the project is in its final stage of in-land training of 26 Industrial Training Officers (ITOs) by experts from Korea at NITA Mombasa on the use of the new equipment supplied and installed.

Over and above, NITA has developed a transformation framework geared towards ensuring effective and efficient service delivery which include legal reforms where the Industrial Training Act is expected to be amended to include establishment of Sectors Skills Councils (SSCs); National Skills Development Council (NSDC); and National Trades and Occupations Standards and Quality Assurance Council (NTOSQAC).

‘The framework is further intended to mainstream informal sector into industrial training, ensure establishment of National Skill Development Policy; review of the levy orders and deconcentrating of the Industrial Training Centres (ITCs) among others,’ said Mr. Ogenga.

Currently NITA has established and regulates three categories of Apprenticeships: Craft Apprenticeship, Technician Apprenticeship and Graduate Apprenticeship. Under the National Skills Certificate Qualifications, seven (7) schemes have been made with an aim of strengthening the Apprenticeship mode of training.

The institution’s Formal Skills Upgrading – Focuses on training regulated by the Industry Based training and Accreditation (IBTA). In-formal Skills Upgrading- the scheme seeks to embrace the informal sector into Industrial Training.

 

Strategic Plan…

The Authority developed NITA Strategic Plan for the period 2018/2022 which is structured with four (4) Key Results Areas: Regulation of Industrial Training; Industrial Skills Development; Resource Mobilization; and Organizational Capacity Development.

The Authority monitors implementation of the plan on annual basis. The M&E report for the implementation of the plan in the FY 2018/19 indicated that about 30% of the targeted activities had been implemented. The report will be used to guide the review of the plan after the Mid-Term review expected in one years’ time.

In 2013, NITA re-constituted the fourteen (14) Committees and formed nine (9) Sector Training Committees (STCs) based on the key economic sector in the country. The new Committees had a leaner membership of only ten (10) members and were more focused in their roles. Following the expiry of the three (3) year- term of the first Sector Training Committees’ in July 2019, the Authority invited nomination of new members from Employers bodies, Employees bodies and other interests (Government, BMO, Jua Kali.

A trainee undergoing Assessment in Plumbing at NITA Mombasa.

Corporate Social Responsibility…

Currently, the Authority runs a Corporate Social Investment in form of sponsorship of 25 Kenyan female students from needy backgrounds annually to pursue engineering courses at craft, certificate and diploma levels in an effort to reduce gender disparity in technical/engineering disciplines as a part of its Corporate Social Investment.

‘Through this affirmative action, this programme has benefitted over two hundred and twenty five (225) Kenyan students across the country to date. The Female Engineering Training Programme was conceived out of a report on an overseas study tour to fifteen (15) countries with best levy practices in 2005. The objective of the programme was to address the observed gender imbalance in the engineering profession by supporting deserving and needy females to undertake engineering training,’ the Director General explained.

Selected candidates are placed in NITA Centres, other National Polytechnics and technical training institutions. The students undertake various courses in electrical engineering (electronics, telecoms and computer), mechanical engineering (plant option and production), land survey, quantity survey, civil engineering, agricultural, and chemical engineering.

The criteria for selection of trainees is based on academic qualifications, and neediness of applicants from Arid and Semi- arid Land [ASAL] areas. Targeted ASAL areas are: Mandera, Turkana, Lamu, Wajir, West Pokot, Kwale, Ijara, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu, Elgeyo – Marakwet, Suba, Kajiado, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Teso, Mt. Elgon, Kitui, Mwingi, Tharaka, Mbeere, Transmara, Makueni, Kuria and Marigat.

Through the Female Engineering Sponsorship Committee which oversees the day-to-day running of the Programme, the Authority is working to develop intensive outreach programs in these areas to sensitize the locals on the importances of taking technical courses.

Challenges…

The Kenyan formal sector skills development environment is faced with numerous challenges including fractious implementation of skills enhancement initiatives by both public and private players. The Introduction of Competence Based Education and Training has resulted in an overdrive for control and dominance, among key stakeholders.

‘In Kenya numerous challenges confront the training carried out in the informal sector. The training providers who carry out training in this sector are mainly Master Craftsmen who offer practical training with no business or theoretical packages. In addition, there is basically no rationale for the identification of the MCs who possess no skills in training or pedagogical skills,’ notes Mr. Ogenga.

The training content /curriculum is non-existence in the informal sector, in addition, delivery of content is as and when the MC decides, meaning that the trainee in such a setup is at the mercy of the trainer and doesn’t have any back ground of what shall be delivered. There is completely lack of standards in the informal training.

‘One of the biggest challenges of skill development in our country is that 84% of the workforce is in informal sector. Consequently, it is difficult to map existing skills in the informal sector and gauge the skilling requirement in the sector. On the other hand, the rate of job growth in informal sector is estimated to be twice that in formal sector,’ Mr. Ogenga noted.

Other challenges include limited linkages, partnerships and collaboration with Interested parties, inability to fully match skills development in the Industrial training centres, duplication of roles by various Government entities overseeing TVET and Industrial Training in Kenya, Obsolete technology, facilities and equipment as well as Limited inter-agency coordination.

Poor linkages with industry and the labour market, Insufficient capacity in key agencies; piecemeal regulation and quality assurance, limited planning of delivery and infrastructure development, particularly at the County levels and inadequate reach to potential levy contributors countrywide for inspection, registration and the levy collection also pass as some of the key challenges.

Trainees undertaking a session in Screen Printing at NITA Textile Training Institute (NTTI).

 

Mitigation…

NITA intends to take up its regulatory role in industrial training but also put in place measures that will fundamentally restructure and re-align institutions and key players in the Industry in an effort to achieve Vision 2030 and keep abreast with the rapidly evolving Global, Continental and Regional trends.

The Industrial Training Act, from which NITA draws its mandate provides the policy drive and robust Regulatory Framework for Work Based Training Plans Quality Work Based Learning (formulate skills training system) with Strong Labour Market Relevance.

It Informs Sustainable Funding Arrangements for Skills Development. Further it outlines the Contractual Arrangements between the Employers and Trainees and formulates training standards (NOSS, NCS). It further gives requirements for the testing, assessment and certification system (Proficiency, Trade Testing and MC assessment).

 

Socioeconomic Growth…

The informal economy is a key carrier of opportunities for sustainable employment and innovation. The challenge is to provide learning opportunities that improve the employability of all young women and men.

In 2012, the Government promised it would ensure the Jua Kali sector receives attention and financial inclusion like other sectors heavily contributing to development in the country’s industrialisation process.

For Kenya, the Jua Kali traders are a sure way of laying a strong foundation for industrialisation from within as opposed to imported industrialisation, which could very easily create more jobs and wealth abroad than at home.

Kenya’s 2014 Economic Survey indicated 80 per cent of the 800,000 jobs created in 2014 were in the informal and/or Jua Kali sector that is dominated by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Some studies show that four out of five working Kenyans are in the informal sector.

During the Second Medium Term Plan of Vision 2030 (2013-2017), NITA made significant strides as it consistently implemented development programmes and realized achievements in Industrial Training. NITA, therefore, contributed significantly to the economic growth, industrial skills enhancement, and administration through its strategic institutional framework, which comprised NITB members, STCs, the management team, and constituent Industrial Training Centres.

‘NITA is working with partners to operationalize the Recognition and Experiential Learning framework. This will enable the formalizing of skills acquired outside the formal training system and enable the trainee be more employable. NITA in collaboration with key stakeholders has planned to re-engineer the apprentice scheme in Kenya to make it practical and attractive to both employers and trainees,’ Mr. Ogenga mentioned.

The Authority continues to collaborate with industry players to identify the skills gap in the industry occasioned by disruption of jobs such as pandemic and develop training programs that will address these challenges.

 

The Big Four Agenda…

NITA has developed National Occupational Standards (NOS) and Training Curricula in 17 areas building trade areas at different KNQA levels. This was done in close collaboration with the Industry thereby ensuring that the Competences to be acquired by workers and artisans going through these curriculums meet the demands of the Industry and ultimately the Big Four Agenda.

‘Through NITA’s internal Transformation we believe that the Authority will not only actively take up its regulatory role in industrial training but also put in place measures that will fundamentally restructure and re-align institutions and key players in the Industry in an effort to achieve Vision 2030 and keep abreast with the rapidly evolving Global, Continental and Regional trends,’ Notes the NITA DG.

Whereas, NITA as an Institution is primarily mandated to regulate training of persons engaged in industry, it has also been mandated to carry out several administrative, training and service oriented roles and functions as enumerated in the mandate.

Some of these roles and functions have come under scrutiny as result of the emergence of other critical players in the Industry within these defined spaces and boundaries of operations. It is therefore vital to generate dialogue among key players in the Industry with a view to recalibrate, align and reset the architecture of relationships and operations among all of them, and keep alive the Kenya Vision 2030 that aims to transform Kenya into an industrialized middle income country.

‘Looking into the future, we seek to strengthen the regulatory role of NITA, streamline quality assurance in industrial training among key Interested parties,

facilitate provision of adequate and relevant skills for productivity enhancement and competitiveness. In addition, we will mainstream industrial training in the informal sector and enhance the financial sustainability of industrial training programs to ensure adequate, skilled and productive workforce for NITA. Above all, we will continue to strengthen governance and corporate image of NITA,’ concludes Mr. Ogenga.

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