Skills development for rural people: A renewed challenge

McGrath, S. Network for Policy Review Research and Advice on Education and Training (NORRAG) (2005) With seventy percent of the world’s poor living in rural areas, it is essential that poverty strategies consider the issue of skills development in rural areas. This collection of papers from the 2005 meeting of the Working Group for International Cooperation in Skills Development offers the perspectives of international development agencies on their experiences of delivering skills development initiatives in rural communities. Aimed at policy makers and practitioners, each paper describes the different approach and programmes of each agency, discusses the successes and limitations and constraints involved in each approach, and identifies areas for future work and reforms. Papers in the collection cover the following topics: * the FAO/IIEP collaboration on education for rural people * the ILO’s training for local empowerment approach * the approach of the European Training Foundation in promoting skills for local development in Central Asia * German experiences in technical cooperation in developing countries * French skills for rural employment in Sub-Saharan Africa * skills development and capacity building by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) in West Africa * the World Bank’s attention to the role of tertiary education in supporting African countries’ national agricultural innovation systems.

A number of elements are identified as necessary for skills development in rural areas, including: * the importance of both technical and generic transferable skills, including social and communication skills, self- organisation, bargaining, and entrepreneurial skills * the importance of developing the political and organisational skills of farmers’ organisations * the need to support and build on existing skills, innovation and knowledge systems of farming/rural communities * the need to build capacity: for individual farmers and their organisations, for skills providers and other service organisations, for national departments and agencies, and for international organisations * skills development needs to be seen in conjunction with a set of other inputs, such as micro-credit * the importance of offering flexible training delivery in the proximity of rural households.