Assessing Skills in the Informal Economy

Informal apprenticeship, long considered as inferior by policy makers, is still the most common form for acquisition of vocational skills in developing countries. Skills assessments have the potential to bring a number of advantages to all parties involved in small business: the master craftspersons, the apprentices, the customers and the market as a whole. Skills assessments give recognition to the apprentices and their masters; they enhance quality of the skills acquisition process and at the end result in better product quality and work standards.

On the basis of nine case studies from around the globe, with a focus on West Africa, Ralf Lange and Maria Baier D’Orazio of FAKT, with support and contributions of Christine Hofmann of the International Labour Organization (ILO), have developed a resource guide for small industry and community organizations that provides a sound basis for planning and organization of skills assessments. The guide, published by ILO in March 2015, provides an overview of skills assessment practices, discusses the perspective and constraints of small enterprises and their associations and then provides guidelines how to initiate, organize and implement skills assessments in the context of small scale industries and traditional crafts. The guide further elaborates how small industry organizations cooperate with vocational training institutions in implementing cooperative models for training and skills assessment and how to link skills assessments conducted by small industry organisations with national qualification systems. The paper closes with a section on how to address common constrains as identified in the case studies. After conducting verification workshop with practitioners in South Africa the guide is being applied in of “real life” situations. One example from the field is the cooperation of ILO with the Ministry of Labour of Sudan and the Sudan Chamber of Small Industries, where the guide was used in a sequence of training sessions aiming at introducing a skills assessment system in selected branches of the Chamber.

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