The internationalisation of educational and training systems, labour markets, and the increased mobility of people and jobs have implications on the ways that skills are recognised, validated and accredited and on cross-border recognition of qualifications.
On 27 to 28 June 2018, UNESCO and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) organized a launch workshop for a new initiative to strengthen capacities of ECOWAS countries to reform their qualifications systems and reinforce skills and qualification across-borders in the ECOWAS region.
ECOWAS is a regional group with a mandate of promoting economic integration in all fields of activities of the constituting countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.
ECOWAS has adopted a development blueprint for the next decade, Vision 2020, with the objective ‘To create a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region, built on good governance and where people have the capacity to access and harness its enormous resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development and environmental preservation’.
In this context, it is expected that all countries will have ‘a highly skilled, flexible and mobile workforce’, and the reform of qualifications systems and the development and implementation of National and Regional Qualifications Frameworks is one of the priorities of the Education Ministers of the ECOWAS. The current initiative aims to support their efforts in this domain.
The workshop, co-organised by ECOWAS and UNESCO was attended by 60 participants from almost all of the ECOWAS countries. Participants included Ministers in charge of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, officials from relevant Ministries, as well as representatives from employers’ associations.
During the two days of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to engage in peer dialogue, sharing of knowledge and information, collective learning and mutual support and to liaise closely with international organizations and other entities working in the field of qualifications systems.
A ministerial round table discussion took place on 29 June to discuss the outcomes of the workshop and agree on ways forward. Four Ministers of TVET from the ECOWAS region took part in this round table and confirmed their commitment and intention to proceed with reforms in their national systems, including the development and implementation of a national qualifications framework. They also agreed to explore the possibilities of regional cooperation within ECOWAS, with the view to work towards enhancing recognition of qualifications and developing a regional qualifications framework. UNESCO, together with its partners, will be accompanying and supporting all countries in the region in these efforts, in the context of the UNESCO Strategy for TVET.