Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Skill Development, a special purpose vehicle in the TVET ecosystem

Industry specific skill development based on the skill gaps reported by the employer industries is now a priority initiative across the globe. It triggers a natural query in many minds: ‘why do we need separate skill development programmes while there are TVET programmes?

 According to UNESCO’s international centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (UNEVOC) “Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is concerned with the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work. It replaces all the earlier terms used, which include:  Apprenticeship Training, Vocational Education, Technical Education, Technical-Vocational Education (TVE), Occupational Education (OE), Vocational Education and Training (VET), Professional and Vocational Education (PVE), Career and Technical Education (CTE), Workforce Education (WE), Workplace Education (WE), etc.

From the above definition, we can see that TVET is all encompassing. Now, the question ‘why do we need separate skill development programmes while there are TVET programmes?’ becomes more relevant. A lot of studies and surveys show that most of the existing TVET systems are not proactive enough to understand and address the changing human resource needs of the industry. It creates drastic skill gaps and which in turn increase the demand-supply gap of manpower.  It will be further complicated by the projected drop in the percentage of people in working age group, compared to the job opening anticipated in the next ten years in many parts of the world. Many studies reported that if the above problems are not addressed in an emergency mode, the adverse effect of it on the world economy would be drastic.

Since highly institutionalized TVET systems in various parts of the globe have decades or even centuries old history of existence, bringing a total shift in short notice or sudden and substantial changes in working strategies may not be possible. It necessitated short-term and long term alternative strategies to address the issue. Therefore, the present hype of skill development initiatives across the globe has to be considered as a part of addressing the immediate requirements through short-term policies. But for sustainable solutions, the active role of formal TVET systems is quite essential. The best practices of knowing industry requirements, collaboration with industry in the entire life-cycle of the skill training process etc have to be ensured in the TVET systems to make it fully responsive to the demands of the employer industries.

Now to the question, ‘how do the present skill development programmes differ from TVET programmes?, my answer would be, at present the skill development programmes primarily address the development of cutting-edge skills for entry level jobs in the industry, based on the changing needs. Moreover, the skill development systems largely address the non-TVET audience. Whereas the TVET systems give greater emphasis to the basic principles and technologies.  Here, the TVET systems need not be viewed as a separate entity from the skill training programmes. On the contrary, it should also be actively brought into the Frontline of skill development and explore the current development as an opportunity to build sustainable industry collaborations, which in turn will prove to be supportive in modifying and enhancing the acceptability of regular TVET programmes.

In the other hand, the skill development systems try to work out its own long term academic frameworks to allow vertical and horizontal academic mobility to those attend skill training programmes, for which the TVET systems have excellence. Therefore, rather than seeing skill development as a separate system, I would like to see it as a special purpose vehicle within the TVET ecosystem that  spreads its dynamism  all over the TVET ecosystem.

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