The OIC Experience: 40 Years of Vocational Training in
August 17, 2009 – 3:30 p.m.
|Presenters:||Molly Roth, OIC International |
Adolf Lyonga, OIC International
Jocelyn Rowe, Management & Training Corporation
|Moderator: ||Michael Carson, OIC International|
This session presented a successful model of vocational training in Sub-Saharan Africa, with members of the OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Centers International) discussing in detail their experiences and work developing sustainable vocational training centers to provide integrated skills training and organizational capacity building. Presenters noted the key to their success: a holistic approach to skills building, including vocational training, counseling, reading and writing skills, English, basic computation, and communication skills. The OIC centers have also been particularly successful because of the strong support of local communities.
The panel outlined why they believe their centers have been both successful and sustainable. Presenters explained that the model for their affiliate centers was piloted and elaborated in great detail before it was implemented in Ghana, Nigeria, or Cameroon. The OIC spent many years refining the model in distressed communities in the United States. They felt the challenges in these communities were in some ways similar to those of the more industrialized cities in Africa. Their model was very detailed including training regiments for staff and volunteers, mandatory training equipment, and long term technical assistance. In the initial phases, up to five experts from OIC headquarters worked on-site training new staff for up to two years to fully set up a center before turning it over to the local community. By limiting the numbers of trainees, they were able to give each trainee better individual attention and increase their likelihood for success.
Building on the success of these vocational centers, OIC has used them as a jumping off point to springboard into other sectors. They have created innovative models that apply their core work in vocational training and skills development to other sectors such as agricultural, micro-enterprise, health and HIV/AIDS, and IT. Examples of their expansion include reproductive health centers in Ethiopia and Ghana which have been supported by USAID’s Food for Peace program.
Key take away points of this session included best practices in workforce development, as well as and other important aspects when working in these contexts: i) people learn differently in different cultures (verbal, reading, etc), ii) the importance of using a holistic approach to get the full picture, and iii) the value in teaching both life and work skills. Ensuring students have realistic expectations as to what they will gain from the program and its relevance to the real world was one cited best practice. Creating country specific approaches that validate the skill sets of those in the program is key just as it’s also important to look at the local assets to build on what is already there. Furthermore, labor market assessments and gap assessments are essential for supporting students and guiding them effectively.
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