Promotion of skills acquisition through vocational training.
- : Equipping youths with skills that will enable them to create own
employment in the creative industries.
The then Ministry of Youth Development, Employment Creation and Cooperatives turned Youths Training Centres from institutions that offered off-the-shelf courses into Vocational Training Centres that offer training programmes informed by the existing business and employment opportunities in the creative industries. Through the Training for Enterprise Programme, vocational skills are offered in music, clothing technology, metal fabrication and other areas addressing specific business and employment opportunities in a particular province. The Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment replaced the old ministry and scaled-up the vocational training programme, creating synergies with similar privately-run and local authority-owned vocational training centres as well as conducting youth exchange programmes at regional and international levels.
Buttressed by the National Youth Policy and the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (the nation’s economic policy) the programme seeks to equip the youths with survival skills in equal measure with spiritual and physical well-being. Embedded in the training programme are cultural values and beliefs that inform the Zimbabwean national consciousness. The youths are given equal opportunities regardless of sex, race, tribe or creed. As a matter of vocational training that covers all sectors of industry including the creative sector, the Training for Enterprise concept is the backbone of vocational training in Zimbabwe. The principle guides vocational training in both public and private institutions. Each province has a Provincial Vocational Training Centre with district ones complimented by private centres. The Zimbabwe Youth Council a statutory body provides another policy framework and registers youth groups in various industries. The creative sector is
While it is largely accepted that artistic expression or talent are innate in nature, it is increasingly becoming important to identify, nurture and ultimately promote the talent. The major feature of this measure is the acquisition and sharpening of new and potential artistic talents respectively. Recognizing the importance of the young people in cultural expressions, the State Party through the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment converted Youth Training Centres into fully-fledged Vocational Training Colleges in all provinces of the country offering skills training in areas spanning the visual arts, performing arts and other economic sectors. The skills trajectory under the programme has entrepreneurship as one of its key learning area. As a measure, this intervention is designed to evoke the creative spirit of young artists and cultural practitioners, particularly in the beneficiation and value addition in cultural expressions. In addition, cultural expressions by the young people epitomize popular culture of the day, particularly in the performing arts genre. In some cases cultural expressions are inseparable from the way people live and the measure seeks to induce enterprise development in those cultural expressions people view as ordinary, routine practices yet they are imbued with business opportunities. Through Training for Enterprise activities, existing cultural practices are converted into business opportunities in local communities. Zimbabwe is blessed with such manifestations of cultural expressions that find traction in the production of functional art products, namely basketry, localized crafts and traditional dances peculiar to certain parts of the country. It is these cultural expressions that policy for Enterprise Development was crafted with special focus on the youths. The premise of the policy framework is to encourage young women and men who are artistically gifted to express themselves in a business manner.
: The intervention was designed to reorient training offered in the then Youth Training Centres moving away from off-the-shelf routine training programmes into entrepreneurship-driven training programmes that speak to existing business opportunities in a particular province. The expected direct result was the production of entrepreneurs in all sectors of the economy including the creative sector who would then exploit existing business opportunities. Employment creation would be enhanced through the churning out of business minded creative practitioners. The thrust is to produce through vocational training employment creators as opposed to job seekers. Besides, the initiative is designed to economically and socially empower the youths and women who happen to constitute the largest percentage of the Zimbabwean population. Skills acquisition and the requisite funding are effective poverty alleviation strategies that the programme seeks to address as a precursor to total poverty eradication. As a national programme, the Training for Enterprise initiative seeks to equip both rural and urban youths and women with the necessary skills to create sustainable sources of livelihoods particularly in the creative sector that hitherto had been relegated to the periphery of the main economic activities. With the creative sector occupying the centre-stage of the training programme, the Training for Enterprise Programme has as one of its intended outputs the mainstreaming of arts education and training and its attendant cultural expressions into the main economic activities otherwise read as formalization of the arts and cultural sector as an important facet of the State Party’s economic activities. Vocational training therefore becomes a vehicle through which marginalised sections of the population are empowered through facilitation for the establishment of micro to medium scale enterprises in all sectors of the economy including the creative sector. The pillars for the training programme are the National Youth Policy, Vocational Training Policy and to some extent the Gend
: Besides private funding and donors who provide funding for the programme, the State Party through Treasury always allocates funding for vocational training. The allocation is a statutory requirement. The Training for Enterprise Programme also attracts donor funding. During its early implementation stages, substantial support both in financial and material forms was provided by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). With the establishment of Boards of Trustees at the Provincial Vocational Training Centres, retention of funds was introduced while strategic business units were also established that generated funds for the centres. As an example of entrepreneurship, strategic business units are also used as demonstrations during training sessions. With dwindling support from Treasury, the vocational training centres are becoming more and more centres of excellence in terms of generating income. At some Provincial Training Centres notably Magamba in Manicaland and Kaguvi in Midlands, the strategic business units are in the form of creative expressing such as fashion and design, functional art products peculiar to the surrounding communities and innovative metal work products. All these initiatives are designed as extra revenue streams for the centres and their programmes. Agricultural activities, particularly horticulture are proving to be viable revenue sources as most vocational training centres are situated on agricultural land. In essence, the centres are becoming more and more self-sustaining in terms of funding.
The main conclusions laid bare the importance of offering demand-driven and business related vocational courses particularly in the creative sector. In addition, it was noted that the arts and culture sector is awash with business opportunities that the youths (men and women) can undertake in order to eke out sustainable livelihoods. The production of functional art products while it is a component of cultural expressions is a viable business opportunity that attracts customers nationally, regionally and internationally. One of the conclusions was that the State Party through ineffective funding and support was leaving the arts and culture sector out of its mainstream economic activities at the expense of the youth who happen to the major practitioners in this sector. In addition, many cultural expressions were not being recognized, especially those emanating from marginalized communities. In point form the conclusions were as follows:
- Vocational training programmes must be in sync with existing business opportunities in any particular area, particularly courses in the creative sector;
- The arts and culture sector constitute a vital economic activity whose effective exploitation leads to the enjoyment of sustainable livelihoods by the practitioners;
- Functional art products are a vital component of cultural expressions especially those produced by marginalised communities;
- The creative sector, particularly where it involves issues to do with arts and culture is a vital component of a nation’s identity in the community of nations;
- Enhancement of cultural expressions, particularly its diversity in training can be attained through exchange programmes at national, regional and international levels;
- Entrepreneurship in the arts and culture sector as a vital aspect of the skills acquisition trajectory is a critical component of the economic development process for any nation.