Is Technical-Vocational Education and Training at Tertiary Level the Answer to Socio-Economic Development and Reduction of Unemployment in Zimbabwe?

B K Mutambanengwe


Zimbabwe is a developing third world country where unemployment is very high. The majority
of Zimbabweans fall below the poverty datum line. However, Zimbabwe is rich in human and
natural resources. Institutions of higher learning are producing graduates every year. The
majority of the graduates are unemployed because of unavailability of jobs on the market and
lack of right skills regardless of the fact that the country is rich in raw materials like minerals
and land. Because of lack of employment opportunities, university and college graduates are
forced to indulge in both legal and illegal activities in order to irk out a living. The worst forms
of illegal activities: debt bondage, prostitution, pornography, drug trafficking, street vending
and other illicit activities, likely to be harmful or hazardous to the health, safety or morals of
youths who are not capable of making own decisions and are still depending on parents/guardians
(Bourdillon, 2003 and ILO, 2002). The topic of Technical-Vocational Education and Training
has generated a lot of debate the world over and most pressure comes from politicians, Non-
Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Christian groups among others. The argument presented
by the college and university graduates, their parents and relatives is that the youth are trying
to make ends meet since there are virtually no jobs on the market, depending on “who you are
and whom you know”. It is hoped that open and distance learning (ODL), with the right programmes
and personnel, can train students to acquire “life skills for self-reliance” so that on
completion they become job creators not job seekers. The purpose of this study was to find out
what ODL and other institutions are doing to reduce unemployment and improve on the socioeconomic
development in the country. A cross-sectional approach to data collection was employed
in this research in order to present a holistic perspective of the nature of technicalvocational
training taking place in Zimbabwean ODL institutions. It is hoped that the findings
will help reshape the ODL institutions’ curriculum.

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