Improving systems providing education and training throughout life

11. In an era characterized by the challenge of rapid technological change, globalization, economic uncertainty and diminishing resources, it is imperative that all stakeholders work together to develop legislation and policies, establish the institutional structures and redesign curricula to ensure that TVE caters adequately to the varied needs of all members of society to enter or re-enter the world of work. Co-ordinated education and training systems involving schools, the informal sector and enterprises need to be established to ensure flexible access to TVE. The World Conference on Higher Education held by UNESCO in October 1998 underlined in its World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-first Century the need for effective articulation between TVE, higher education and the world of work.

12. Some countries have begun restructuring their TVE systems to produce what they expect to be the TVE graduate of the twenty-first century. Generally speaking, three distinct TVE models are currently being utilized. They are:
(i) general education (of 9 to 12 years of schooling) followed by workplace-based skills training and retraining;

(ii) general education followed by institution-based TVE or the 'dual system', and

(iii) vocationalized general education, a system that provides an introduction to a wide variety of

vocational skills that are not intended to prepare individuals for direct entry into the labour market but rather to expose them to a range of life skills and applied experiences. However, many countries continue to debate

Whether general education should focus primarily on the acquisition of fundamental generic
skills or whether it should also incorporate work-oriented specialized skills.

13. The inculcation of entrepreneurial skills is considered essential for the preparation of all workers, regardless of whether they intend to be self-employed or wage-employed. Entrepreneurship training is considered a valuable tool for inspiring motivation, creativity and innovation. In addition, entrepreneurial skills are expected to equip TVE graduates with the ability to generate employment opportunities through the creation of new businesses.

14. Since most TVE graduates will expect to receive further training either at their place of work or at a public or private institution, programme administration and curricula must allow flexible entry and exit opportunities throughout life. TVE graduates wishing to acquire new skills through retraining need lifelong learning opportunities. Some proposals to facilitate this approach include designing courses in modular format, introducing competency-based assessment, using self-paced learning to meet individual requirements, and giving recognition to the experience, knowledge and skills already possessed by trainees. Indeed, the Declaration of UNESCO's Fifth International Conference on Adult Education concludes with the pledge to forge extended alliances to mobilize and share resources in order to make adult learning a joy, a tool, a right and a shared responsibility.

15. In a rapidly evolving work environment, educational and vocational guidance and counselling are critical and must constitute an integral part of any TVE programme as they contribute to enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of training. Counselling is necessary to understand and appreciate the talents of students and trainees, and to help them explore career alternatives. Counselling is also an important factor that must be considered in developing educational and vocational training plans, especially in connection with helping students relate effectively to others, and to integrate successfully in society and the labour market. The integration of vocational subjects in general education needs to be accompanied by guidance that encourages a positive attitude towards work. Guidance and counselling must define career development as a systematic process during which individuals develop their vocational awareness, employability and maturity. It must monitor the requirements of the labour market and help both the gifted and the disadvantaged to develop career plans that suit them best. However, most teachers and training personnel are not sufficiently competent to provide vocational guidance and counselling. In institutions where the service is available, it is confined to the school and does not cater to the needs of parents, and of unemployed youths and adults.

16. Developing countries face special challenges in improving their TVE systems. The cost of introducing new equipment and tools, and retraining the teaching staff is often prohibitive. Prospective employers in these countries will therefore need to assume increasingly critical roles in planning and executing TVE programmes, furnishing training facilities for students and teachers, and providing clear projections regarding the evolving needs of the workplace. It is thus clear that in this rapidly changing social and economic climate, the sustainable development of both businesses and the community will depend on all stakeholders enhancing their social responsibility and commitment through a close engagement in planning and implementing TVE systems.


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