n° 71, april 2016
How can the quality and the flows of initial vocational training be adapted to economic needs? Which qualifications are needed? What role should business play, and where should the state lead? What importance should be attached to general training, and what is the place of learning?
These questions – which are crucially important in the context of an economic crisis that in many countries manifests itself in the great difficulty of integrating young people into the labour market at the end of their initial training – occupy decision-makers everywhere, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the context.
The 10 case studies included in this dossier cover Europe (Italy, Germany, France, Poland), Africa (Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire), Asia (China, Singapore, the Philippines) and the Americas (Canada and Colombia). They are accompanied by a summary of the situation in OECD countries and an analytical bibliography.
The focus is on the training of manual workers and employees up to technician grade. In many developed countries, it is this intermediary level that poses the most problems in terms of employability. It is also at this level that the most differences are found between systems, both in terms of political leadership and the role conferred to the professional sphere.
This panorama highlights not only common issues, which receive complex and varying responses depending on the context, but also a general tendency, namely that a command of fundamental skills has become decisive, as has scientific and technical training as a quality factor in training systems.
An issue coordinated by Christian Forestier, ancien recteur.
The challenges of sustainable employability
Initial vocational training across the world
Vocational training and employability in OECD countries: Pledges and challenges
Eric Charbonnier, Stéphanie Jamet
Vocational education and training (VET) pathways have in the past been neglected and sidelined in the political debate, often eclipsed by the increasing attention focused on general academic teaching. Yet employers, teachers and students in OECD countries are increasingly turning to VET in their search for learning pathways conducive to a smooth transition between school and working life. At a time when the younger generations are severely impacted by unemployment, recent OECD data highlight VET’s strengths and challenges in terms of increasing the chances of success of those with qualifications on the labour market.
Vocational and technical training in Quebec: A need for reform
In Quebec, vocational training is split between the “vocational” training delivered at secondary school and the “technical” training provided by general and vocational colleges, or cégeps. These programmes are delivered almost exclusively in schools and are largely monopolized by the education network. Representatives of the labour market have a relatively marginal role, although they take part in identifying the skills required in a given occupation. In a context of forecasted growth in the hiring of vocationally qualified labour, several actors are calling for the reform of an education system that has changed little since the 1960s.
The engagement of business in Germany’s vocational training system
Isabelle Le Mouillour, Marte Geiben
Dual vocational training in Germany could not function without the engagement of actors representing the world of work. Businesses, professional organizations, chambers of commerce and industry as well as trade unions all enjoy the same stakeholder status as the federal and Länder ministries responsible for education and training. This tripartite cooperation is in fact an instance of legislatively mandated co-responsibility. This article gives an overview of the different domains of action and responsibility of actors from the world of work.
Improving learning and dual education in school and the workplace
The case of Italy
In recent years education and vocational training in Italy have undergone reforms that have reinforced the role of the regions while also creating new qualification pathways. This has resulted in a widely divergent framework across the regions – both in terms of quality and objectives – and in many cases inadequate integration with the world of work. The most recent reforms, which apply in equal measure to schools and the world of work, seek to address these shortcomings by building shared educational pathways and conferring a central role to the school system, through improvements to both learning and dual education delivered in schools and the workplace.
Vocational education as a focus for innovation
The case of France
Technical and vocational education in France is characterized by its complexity. Rooted in political and social history, it expresses the tensions that exist between the different actors involved: the state, employers and trade unions. Business is omnipresent in the landscape of vocational training and the branches of industry play the leading role in developing qualifications: they design, deliver and finance their own diplomas. The creation of the streamlined three-year vocational baccalauréat has restructured the qualifications offer, checked the fall in numbers and given the vocational career path a more positive image by improving access to further studies, mainly courses that lead to the qualification of senior technician. The creation of diversity-enhancing multi-pathway lycées is a sign that vocational training is implanted in the school environment.
A systematic reform of vocational training
The case of Poland
In Poland, high-quality vocational education is a political priority. This article describes the main changes that have occurred in the initial vocational training system since 2012. The reform began by identifying, for each profession, the qualifications covering the knowledge, know-how and personal and social skills indicated in the core curriculum for occupational training programmes, in accordance with the classification of vocational education occupations and the Polish qualifications framework. The segmentation of occupations and collaboration between vocational education institutions and employers are essential in order to improve the quality of initial vocational training and bring it closer to the constantly changing labour market.
How can economic needs be better taken into account?
Higher education and vocational training in Colombia
Paula Escobar, Juliana López
In a context in which the education system is being legislatively carved up and economic development poses major challenges, vocational training in Colombia is facing three main difficulties: poor mobility between higher education institutions and the different levels of training; a disconnect between the educational offer and the needs of the economy; and the sidelining of vocational training. The Colombian government is attempting to remedy this situation by creating a higher education system that gives vocational training a leading role.
A global need for short-cycle vocational higher education
The example of Morocco
Zayer El Majid
Despite persistent difficulties, Morocco’s short-cycle vocational higher education system is currently enjoying a favourable climate. This is because it partly responds to the needs of a constantly changing economy and also because, in a context of high unemployment among young higher education graduates, it offers course leavers opportunities for employment and labour market integration. The country has embarked on an ongoing process of political, economic and social reforms, with the deployment of strategic sectoral plans. Vocational training continues to face certain challenges, namely the reorganization of the policy of careers guidance and information for young people and their families and the establishment of an employment and qualifications observatory.
Building a system of vocational training
The experience of Côte d’Ivoire
Vocational training in Côte d’Ivoire is in the process of structural development with a view to adapting to technological and organizational changes. These changes are leading actors within the system to ask the “right questions” at the “right moment”, particularly in order to improve the quality of training, by reinforcing the employability of trainees. However, as X. Greffe has noted, “though vocational training courses can contribute to the proper functioning of the economies of developing countries, they are highly dependent on the opportunities provided by the economy, even more so than in developed countries”.
Changes to higher vocational education in China
Guo Yang, Yang Lin
Higher vocational education in China is recent and has already undergone remarkable expansion, both in the rise in the number of people registering onto courses and the employability of those graduating from them. The government’s aim is to implement a training policy that produces qualified technicians for industrial production, construction, the service sector and management, as well as to invent an academic model that takes into account the needs of businesses. Over the last decade, efforts have focused on creating model institutions and improving quality in order to develop a model of vocational training that is distinct from that of universities. In the face of such a rate and scale of development, many challenges remain: in particular, ensuring that education institutions adapt to changes in the industrial sector and that businesses are involved in vocational training.
Vocational and continuing training at the service of employability in Singapore and the Philippines
Catherine Ramos, S. Gopinathan
This article considers pre-employment training and continuing training in Singapore, focusing on technical and vocational training, the national SkillsFuture project and the labour force qualification system. The article also covers technical and vocational training in the Philippines, developing the idea that the different approaches in this domain depend on the degree of development and the geopolitical context. Context is also key in grasping the policies and approaches specific to education systems and understanding the way in which countries tackle the skills issue.