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Zimbabwe’s Untapped Resource

The informal sector plays an important role in the development of skills among Zimbabwe’s disadvantaged groups, and should be recognised as an alternative training path for those who cannot access formal training. Formal training plays an important role in skills development in Zimbabwe, but it is has some serious limitations. For example it is expensive and most families cannot afford the high tuition fees after the government stopped tertiary education grants in 2006 and 2011. Moreover, tertiary institutions’ entry requirements exclude learners with a poor academic record. High schools are producing far too many students whose exam results are not good enough for university or college entrance. In 2020 for example, only 24.8% of all O-level learners passed at least five subjects required to enrol into a formal training institution. Zimbabwe’s labour market is dominated by informal employment. In 2011, 94.5% of its employed population were working in the informal economy. Promoting the informal sector as an equally important alternative training platform as well as recognising and standardising informally acquired skills will allow skill holders to participate in the main or formal economy. They will have a chance to challenge for formal jobs and tenders in private and public sectors. Since most of these skill holders are from disadvantaged backgrounds, recognising their skills and allowing them to participate in the formal economy will play an important role in uplifting their living skills.