What Is Vocational Education And Training?
The skills and dispositions most frequently identified as essential to society’s economic and democratic success by scholars and leaders in business and government include among them the capacities for critical thinking and complex problem-solving, respect for people different from oneself, and effective interpersonal interaction and teamwork. - Gardner
The above gives an overview of what around the world, is perceived as important to the economies of a country. Before the 1960’s governments paid little attention to work or training needs of people. Governments had a laissez-faire, free market approach and the design of the curriculum of the school depended upon the latter. This created chaos and brought considerable criticism that a country did not provide the right skills necessary for its citizen.
Other factors that have had considerable impact, was the transition from highly industrialized to an information society, international globalization and the restructuring of organizations all enforcing changes to country and global economies. To ensure that these factors were achieved, governments implemented Vocational Education and Training Policies and Systems – VET. (very short explanation)
Two methods of the implementation of VET Policies and System are used:
– Governments do not interfere with VET and the training is left largely up to individuals and organizations. (Countries in emerging markets and even some of the riches western countries in the world)
Directed / Functionalist:
– Governments use regulations and legislation to implement compulsory factors of training for employers to implement to its employees. (Most European countries (excluding UK), some Middle Eastern countries are starting for their own nationals, Singapore and Korea etc.)
Both methods are widely used!! (which one do you think has worked best over the past 4 years ?)
VET has the ability to constrain the growth and at the same time reduce the competitiveness of a country’s economy. When a country is in economic downturn the flaws become visible of the overall skills of an labourforce and especially VET systems, enforcing the way of development of a country, businesses and citizens.
Today’s market place is changing and there is a need to develop a wider range of skills and knowledge.
For example, a student in Germany who will not enter higher education, follows automatically a vocational system of training, coursework and apprenticeship. Now this is different to many other countries in the world – however Germany has worked together with employers, trade unions and governments and given rights to representation from all sides. Currently this is one of the reasons why their economy is doing a little better than other European countries, however employers are fully responsible for the improvement of vocational training – a huge costs and investment, more the Action Orientated Learning concept.
This quote always stayed with me:
...the teacher who taught me GCSE French gazed across our class one day with a look of mournful regret. She said with genuine sympathy that she felt sorry for you, because we would go to university and be trained, whereas she had gone to university and received an education. - Heaney
The UK government has implemented many systems over the years, one was to implement the Investors in People (IiP) Award, a business receives this award if the employer has an effective strategic approach to people management and lifelong learning, linking business strategies to training and development in the workplace.
I have worked with a variety of VET systems and policies across the world and still I am unclear of the overall framework of qualifications in each country. An improvement for the employer and especially for the government would be to enforce a ‘coherent’ structure, enabling a focused approach to VET enabling quick and effective action if skill shortages and (even more) unemployment increases become apparent.
Governments (even in emerging markets) can start today with the implementation of VET systems and policies.
I know I have been requested in the past months to set up VET courses (and empowerment workshops) across emerging markets countries like Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Ghana. If these countries now see the importance of supporting their countries with skills and training development – why is the western world… not interested? Or if they are – they go back to the old traditional VET – whilst we need a modern way of thinking?
My concern is the next generation after the millennials, (the latter already has a hard time with their skills and development in the labour force in this economy). ‘Gen Z’ need different skills and development programs and if we do not work on new VET Systems and Policies across the world, what will you as a HR Director in 20 years do to get skilled employees?
The people team should plan and train the workforce, developing a system and affording a strategy to cope with the problems, innovative ways of developing younger and older employees to fill possible skill shortfall that may arise.
There is huge need to implement workforce planning, anticipating future staff requirements and investing in young people via VET programs.
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