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Malawi pioneers Africa’s apprenticeship network

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Malawi has become the first country in Africa to establish a Global Apprenticeship Netwok (Gan), a coalition of leading companies committed to end youth unemployment and skills mismatch by investing in work-based training.

The network will provide employers with an opportunity to advocate for conducive environment to accommodate young people in different organisations to give them necessary skills for employability.

A national network kick-off meeting to mark the start of the network’s operations in Malawi was held in Blantyre last week and the meeting agreed that the network will seek to promote technical and vocational careers, an entrepreneurial culture and career guidance among youth as well as creating a conducive legal and regulatory environment for employers to implement work readiness programmes and strengthening the interface between training institutions and companies to bridge skills gap.

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The Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam), the local representative of the Gan network in the country says it will work hand in hand with the Gan to put in place a platform that can contribute to the fight to end youth unemployment and promote business skills for them.

Gan Communications and Field Support Officer, Cristina Gueco Martin, said Gan national networks serve an essential role in rooting the Gan concept within different national contexts with their distinct economic, cultural and institution needs.

“They are platforms on the ground where each country will define its own priorities and activities and commit for impact,” she said.

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In 2015, Gan national networks were launched in Turkey, Indonesia, Spain and Argentina, with Malawi becoming the first country to launch the network in Africa.

The Gan is a business-driven alliance with the overarching goal of encouraging and linking business initiatives on skills and employment opportunities for youth – notably through apprenticeships.

The Gan is a network, where private sector companies, business federations and associations come together to share best practices, to advocate and to commit to action around youth employability and skills development.

The initiative is driven by business leaders, who use these global platforms to promote apprenticeship and internship programmes worldwide.

They reach out in their respective countries and industries to mitigate the youth unemployment and skills mismatch crises. At the same time they strengthen their companies’ competitive strategies by investing in their workforce.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the emphasis by employers to find candidates with the right skills or experience to fill job vacancies without themselves offering training to match the job requirements has aggravated the skills mismatch in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The International Labour body says the end result is that an increasing number of young people in developing economies like Malawi are taking up employment for which they are overqualified thereby defeating efforts to achieve sustainable development.

The ILO has since warned that Malawi needs a vision for the future of its labour market and a strategy to improve labour market outcomes for the youth.

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