21st century tech-voc education and training

THE best education systems in the world are found in the Scandinavian countries (mainly Finland), Northern Europe, Japan and South Korea, and the United States. When it comes to technical and vocational education and training (TVET), nobody beats the Germans.

The United Nations, through a joint document by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), has endorsed a set of recommendations on “Technical and Vocational Education and Training for the 21st Century”. “

Skills for an emerging workplace

In its opening statement, the UN document recognizes the need to adapt to changing skills needs in the emerging workplace.

The document stated in part: “As economic, social and technological change accelerates, people everywhere need to develop their knowledge and skills, on an ongoing basis, in order to be able to live and work meaningfully in a global society. know… Investing in education and training is therefore an investment for the future; knowledge and skills are the engine of economic growth and social development.”

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Indeed, technology, information, globalization, climate change and changing demographics have all combined with other factors to alter the workplace. It used to be that work was a place where people had to go to be able to work on production lines or behind their desks. Today, work is what people do anywhere, anytime, alone or with a virtual team of colleagues, customers, or suppliers, to create value that customers are willing to pay for. pay. The skills and tools needed to create value today are no longer the same set of theoretical knowledge that was taught in schools a decade ago. Businesses, governments and workers themselves must invest in education and training if they are all to be relevant in the future that is rapidly shaping (and changing) today.

Importance of TVET

In the future, most jobs will be either technology-based or technology-enabled. Workers need to learn and master basic digital skills, many of which are actually technical and professional in nature.

The same Unesco and ILO document states: “Quality technical and vocational education and training (TVET) helps to develop an individual’s scientific and technological knowledge in a broad occupational field requiring technical and professional skills and specific professional skills. National TVET systems [around the world], therefore, must develop the knowledge and skills that will help the workforce become more flexible and responsive to the needs of local labor markets, while being competitive in the global economy. Some countries have introduced TVET reforms that seek to integrate work-based learning and training into the vocational education curriculum.

While Unesco and the ILO have observed that some countries are now trying to integrate apprenticeships and work-based training into school curricula, this practice has long been the norm for countries like Germany, famous for its dual training system.

The UN document continues: “In view of the immense scientific, technological and socio-economic development, under way or envisaged, which characterizes the present era, in particular globalization and the revolution in information and communication, technical and vocational education should be a vital aspect of the educational process in all countries.

The integration of TVET into the overall education process (basic, secondary, college and higher) should contribute to the achievement of society’s development goals and improve the potential of citizens, especially young people. Such integration could also lead to a better understanding of the changing environment where high-level technical and vocational skills are in demand, but scarce, in some countries like the Philippines.

The Philippines, with the adoption of the K-12 curriculum, is moving towards such integration. The K-12 curriculum integrates kindergarten to 12 years of basic education – six years of elementary education, four years of middle school, and two years of high school. It aims to provide ample time for mastery of basic concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for higher education, tech-voc education, or jobs. beginner level.

Remove bias against tech-voc

If you ask typical Filipino parents, regardless of social status, education, and income, about their dream or aspiration for their children’s ideal future profession, the best answers would be doctor, lawyer, or businessman.

If you’re asking a businessperson or human resources professional about the typical ideal employee, the best answers might be a college graduate, highly skilled, good at people skills, eager to learn, and who will stay in the business for a long time. organization.

There seems to be a strong prejudice against technical and vocational education and training, even a generalized “stigma”. Perhaps the prejudice against trades such as carpentry, welding, cosmetology, etc. is partly due to ignorance of new emerging professions that require TVET skills. These professions can pay high salaries and may even have more sophisticated titles like big data analysis, data mining, user interface design, and programming languages ​​such as Perl, Python, Java, and Ruby.

Employers today are always on the lookout for job seekers with a good mix of hard and soft skills. TVET institutions focus on the development of technical skills. Typical jobs require 80% soft skills (including life skills) and 20% technical or hard skills. Therefore, to improve the employability of Filipinos, I suggest that the curriculum of basic education, high schools, colleges and tech-voc institutions should include less theoretical knowledge, more soft skills and a wide range of digital and technical skills needed for emerging professions.

TVET schooling should be so “staggered” that a TVET graduate can obtain a college degree after completing a required additional number of college units, or TVET skills are granted certain equivalency credits required for a college degree. This could be made possible if TVET schools, colleges/universities and businesses could work together to run enterprise-based education/training (EBET). What is needed is less regulation and more business involvement.

Parents without a college education want a betterment and would be proud to see their children graduate from college. However, parents need to understand that more than half of the jobs in the world require a solid background in soft and technical skills, not a college degree. Also, not all high school graduates have the aptitude or desire to pursue a college education. Many are better suited for entrepreneurship or jobs that require technical skills.

Here’s the clincher: Many college graduates are out of work today. Before the pandemic, nearly two million college graduates were out of work (some thought they were overqualified or wouldn’t accept an entry-level position that pays less than 25,000 pesos/month). Add to that the graduates of the classes of 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

US Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi said: “A high school diploma will no longer suffice. But this post-secondary education does not have to be a four-year college. It can be vocational technical education, vocational, community college.”

Ernie Cecilia is Chairman of the Human Capital Committee and Publications Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (AmCham); Chairman of the Confederation of Employers of the Philippines (ECOP) TWG on Labor Policy and Social Issues; and past president of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP). He can be reached at [email protected]

Sam D. Gomez