WASHINGTON, June 19, 2014—The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors has approved support for Malawi today that will help the country to equip young people with the skills needed for jobs in high-priority sectors in the country’s steadily growing economy. These include engineering, natural resources extraction, agriculture, construction, health services, tourism and hospitality.
Programs offered by skills development institutions in Malawi will be made more relevant to today’s market, more results-oriented, and more accessible to youth living in rural areas. Over 7,000 young men and women are expected to benefit from this effort over the next four years.
The Malawi Skills Development Project is supported by a US$46 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA*), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest nations. This credit is complemented by an IDA grant of nearly US$5 million. The project aims to work with universities on specific programs catering to high-priority sectors, as well as with government to strengthen capacity.
“Young people in Malawi need to be able to find jobs that release them from poverty, and they cannot do so without the right skills,” said Laura Kullenberg, Country Manager for Malawi. “Building skills is very important to help people move out of subsistence agriculture and into more productive work—this will raise their income as well as contribute to a dynamic and diversified economy at the national level.”
The Welfare Monitoring Survey 2011 shows that around 90 percent of Malawi’s workforce is in informal sector, with over 81 percent currently in subsistence farming, and the rest 9 percent in the informal sector, and only 10 percent work in formal paid jobs. The unemployment rate among youth stands at about 16 percent. These statistics point to a major skills gap in the country.
Institutions that will receive results-based grants under the project include the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic and Chancellor College, Mzuzu University, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority.
The funding will be used for a range of different activities across these institutions, including improving staff skills, renovating infrastructure and setting up satellite facilities where required. Teacher-training for the secondary level will also receive focused attention under the project.
Malawi’s existing Skills Development Policy Framework recognizes the role of an educated and skilled population in reducing poverty, decreasing inequality and boosting economic growth. The project will help the National Council for Higher Education to strengthen systems and skills-related policy design capacity.
We expect that this skills development project will make a tangible difference to thousands of young people in Malawi, improving their employment prospects and ultimately contributing to prosperity for all,” said Deepa Sankar, World Bank Task Team Leader for the Project.