Training for Work in the Informal Micro-Enterprise Sector : Fresh Evidence from Sub-Sahara Africa
In Sub-Sahara Africa, the sector of informal micro-enterprises (IMEs) is already employing a large share of the labour force in both urban and rural areas. This study reviews the ways in which the owners and workers of IMEs have acquired their vocational and management skills. It reviews the contributions of all the different training providers, including public sector training institutes, private sector training providers, and training centres run by NGOs and other non-profit organizations. The study finds that informal apprenticeship training is by far the most common source of various skills - in some countries it is likely to be responsible for 80-90% of all ongoing training efforts. Informal apprenticeship training presents a number of important advantages. At the same time it has a number of limitations. The study concludes that there is a major challenge to improve the transfer of relevant skills to IME operators, both through pre-employment training and skills upgrading. In view of the scope of the challenge to provide hundreds of thousands IME owners and workers, as well as large numbers of out of school youths with relevant practical and management skills, it suggests to build upon the strengths of the existing practices of informal apprenticeship training and to remedy its weaknesses by involving professional training providers in upgrading its training organization and delivery, quality and efficiency, and final training outcomes. It reviews the results of a number of innovative interventions in different African countries that are working in this direction. Finally, the study suggests that there is an interesting potential in ‘business-embedded training’ provided by private companies as part of their regular business operations.