Bridging Soft Skills Gaps among Automotive Engineering Trainees in TVET: A Case of Thika Technical

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF10 Sub-theme: Fostering Lifelong Learning // TVET has been recognized worldwide as a tool for empowering the youth for sustainable livelihood and social-economic development. However, there are concerns that engineering TVET trainees lack the requisite soft skills for the world of work and this mismatch has implications for the supply of skills to the labour market and youth unemployment. The study based its theoretical explanations on the Human Capital theory. The researcher employed a descriptive survey utilizing both qualitative and quantitative techniques. Considering the limited time, a case study of Thika Technical Training Institute was conducted. The study involved 149 participants comprising 20 automotive engineering trainers, 90 automotive engineering trainees, 30 automotive engineering trainees who had graduated, 8 representatives of the industry players and the Director of Kenya Association of Manufacturers. The study mainly utilized questionnaires, interview guide and Focus Group Discussions. For the purpose of triangulation, document analysis was used. A pilot study was conducted on the research instruments in order to increase validity and reliability. Collected qualitative data was scored manually then organized and analysed systematically as per thematic areas in a narrative form and also in tabular form. Quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS Version 26). The study established that the curriculum content for automotive engineering is short on soft skills, a mismatch in perceptions between the TVET trainers and selected representatives of industries working with TVET institutions and lack of collaboration between TVET and the industry. The study recommended that TVET curriculum should be reviewed so that soft skills are well infused and therefore taught before the trainees enter the labour market, increased collaboration in the mapping of the skills gaps, aligning curriculum content as well as practical industrial experience for the TVET trainers. Although the study is limited in scope, it is hoped that the findings could find relevance and applicability beyond the immediate context. // Paper ID 6562

Skills Development,Employment,Employable Skills,Technical/Vocational Education and Training (TVET)