Innovating the education and training process
17. As the workplace calls for graduates with more sophisticated skills, a sound basic education is considered a prerequisite foundation for TVE. This would involve the acquisition of more complex competences in school such as the ability to understand and communicate through technical illustrations, manuals, modular materials and computers. Basic technology needs to be understood as a new cultural element that is necessary for catering to human needs, including those that concern environmental issues.
18. The range of skills required of a TVE graduate of the twenty-first century suggests that their preparation is becoming a more complex process. This implies that TVE teachers and instructors need continuous competency upgrading throughout their careers. In many countries, teaching staff are deficient either in their theoretical or practical skills. In such cases in-service training would help upgrade their knowledge and skills, and keep them abreast of rapidly developing technologies. A multidimensional approach utilizing modular and on-the-job training supplemented by retraining during vacations is considered effective. Continuous interaction with the community would also help teachers update their technological and entrepreneurial skills as well as their ability to provide guidance and counselling. The multiple skills required of teachers provoke the following questions:
Should the entry requirements for a career in teaching
TVE be viewed more liberally?
19. TVE can play an instrumental role in developing a new generation of individuals who react with the environment in a responsible manner. Environmental issues such as the depletion of natural resources, heavy metal contamination, deforestation, soil erosion, and air and water pollution have a central place in TVE curricula and may be used to develop the required awareness, skills and behaviour patterns. The teaching of practical skills must emphasize the use of environmentally sound techniques. Indeed, addressing environmental issues such as conservation and natural resource management at grass-roots level is an area that holds significant employment potential for skilled TVE graduates.
20. The new information and communication technologies are revolutionizing education by making distance irrelevant and rendering curriculum-based knowledge and vocational guidance information more easily accessible to all. Technology-based learning (TBL) will play a crucial role in the development of a culture of lifelong learning and has the capacity to empower learners by providing them with multiple pathways to meet their educational and training needs. There is a growing interest in TBL throughout the world because it has the potential both to enhance teaching and learning, and to be cost effective by offering greater flexibility in time and location of delivery. For example, the Internet represents a medium that is being increasingly used to provide educational services across geographical boundaries. The best standards and practices can be made accessible through the Internet to students and teachers, particularly in the developing countries. TBL may also facilitate improved institutional policy regarding access and equity. Furthermore, the information technologies enable TVE to function as a catalyst for the penetration of new technologies in underdeveloped regions of the world. In this context, a question that needs to be addressed is
How can practical skills, an integral part of TVE, be taught in distance education programmes?
21. While technology-enhanced education offers great promise, its widespread use is hampered by the high initial cost of hardware and software, the lack of appropriate strategies for integrating technology across curricula and deficiencies in teachers' knowledge. Bilateral and multilateral development co-operation agencies are therefore required to play a crucial role in contributing towards narrowing the widening information technology gap between the developed and developing nations.
22. Innovating the education and training process in response to the new challenges and changing demands of the twenty-first century must include entrepreneurship, a skill that is equally important in wage-employment and self-employment. Entrepreneurship is considered one of the core competences that must be taught throughout general education and TVE. It is a vital tool for making individuals creative and innovative in all areas of work. Small businesses established by entrepreneurs are expected to generate the greatest number of jobs in the modern economy and an increasingly vital role in economic development is foreseen for them. In the Central and Eastern European countries, self-employment was extremely rare in the past, but is now an accepted feature of those economies and is likely to play an increasingly significant role in the future. The education of entrepreneurs is therefore important, particularly in view of some projections that indicate that 50 per cent of the graduates of current education and training programmes will be unlikely to secure wage-employment. In developing countries and in countries in transition towards a market economy, self-employment offers the highest potential for economic independence for most young people. TVE providers and their social partners need to work together to formulate policies for including entrepreneurship education as an integral part of all education programmes aiming at achieving high self-employability for their graduates.
23. Innovating the education and training process must involve reconsidering the current methods for assessing learners' achievements and accrediting work experience. Changes in skill requirements at the workplace call for a re-examination of traditional methods of assessing outcomes. Skills testing, certification and accreditation systems are necessary to indicate the skill standards and competences achieved. Such accreditation indicates the productivity of skilled workers and facilitates their professional mobility. Skill standards can also act as bench marks for curriculum development, performance assessment and occupational classification. In some countries national bodies have been established to determine both standards and accreditation. The recognition of work experience as a substitute for educational qualifications is an innovation that is gaining acceptance. It is thus clear that TVE providers must collaborate with their social partners to develop standardized assessment strategies that facilitate the portability of competences.
24. Production trends witnessed in the late eighties and through the nineties clearly indicate that employer involvement in the training of their future workforces is an imperative. Governments, particularly in the developing countries, are neither able to respond sufficiently quickly to the rapidly changing skill requirements nor to bear the entire cost of training personnel in these state-of- the-art skills. It is thus in the interests of employers to develop multifaceted articulation with local TVE establishments, including financial commitments to institutions and trainees. The benefits for employers from such an articulation are numerous; the graduates of the training programmes would possess the skills most relevant to the current production processes, they would be immediately operational, and they would be familiar with the prevailing culture in the workplace.