Have you ever wondered why the unemployment rate is high in most countries? Over the years, the demand for skilled labor has been on a rise, where many companies are keen to hire foreign experts skilled in specific occupational trades to handle jobs in their organization. The education required for such occupational trades, namely vocational education, consists of training and hands-on experience tailored to specific fields such as agriculture, industries or trade.
There is certainly a need for governments to look more critically at vocational education investment and develop a more strategic approach towards strengthening this vitally important education sector. Among the benefits that come with the government investing in vocational education is the access to a more specialized labor market; enhancement of economic productivity, promotion of entrepreneurship (new businesses = higher number of job vacancies) etc. Let’s review each in deeper explanation.
Access to a better-prepared labor market
At the entry-level, some companies still send their newly hired employees for training on specific job task. This is usually both costly and time-consuming for the companies.
Imagine bridging this gap by having a stronger pool of applicants who already possess the skills that are needed. Who do you think the company will go for? If governments invest in vocational education, they will be equipping young men and women with the skills they need in accessing labor markets effectively and produce successful entrepreneurs who are a true asset to the economy because of their positive impact in employment. Governments that will put their focus into investing in vocational education will thus help in lowering unemployment and poverty, while at the same time increase the country’s economic output.
Vocational courses and training centers also bring the opportunity of a more sustainable and safe society by integrating into the labor market all those who migrate to another country for employment, and as such influence more friendly migration policies. As such, improved social and economic welfare are two of the main benefits of immigration.
Enhancement of economic productivity
Some countries like Japan, Korea, and Singapore detected the need for vocational education early. Their government has taken serious action by investing in vocational training centers. These countries possess enhanced economic productivity because their educational system has trained and recruited their citizens into skilled workers who are capable, innovative and creative. On the other hand, countries like Nigeria are struggling to emerge in the global markets due to the lack of skilled labor and poor vocational infrastructure that produces unqualified and inexperienced students.
Professionals who have received vocational education are exposed to industries and trades in which they can start their own business. For instance, the locksmith vocation training will prepare aspiring locksmiths not only to get more professional in the field but also give them the opportunity to be self-employed and even hire more people in their business. Many locksmiths end up starting their security companies where they offer various locks and security mechanisms. Because of the evident multiplier effect, entrepreneurship through vocational professions can open doors to higher levels of economic growth.
Government investing in vocational education cannot be more emphasized – however, there are numerous approaches to strengthening this education sector. Let us see how governments can actually integrate vocational education policies by using a more strategic approach.
Curriculum development in High schools
The government can review the high school curriculum by ensuring that they teach pre-vocational subjects that are compulsory for all students. Students should have to take at least one final exam on a pre-vocational subject. They should invest in creating desirable conditions in schools, giving them the right equipment and selecting the teachers with the right qualification.
In a technologically advanced age, upgrading of certain equipment and tools needed for training is very important. Programs that promote vocational education can also be introduced by skilled facilitators.
Review of educational budget allocation
There is a need for governments to review their education policies. In most countries, vocational education and early childhood education is at the bottom of the list when there is an allocation of budget to the educational sector.
Vocational education through a non-formal approach
Governments can introduce periodic training programs in communities as projects that empower community development where eligible students and others members of community are trained into gaining specific skills, thereafter they are certified to work in industries, or even start their own trade or business.
Affiliations with private organizations
The government in partnership with some companies can sponsor and equip vocational centers/schools. They can also secure entry-level jobs for students who graduate from vocational schools. Countries like Japan have 2,811 privately owned vocational facilities where students can gain more experience while also engaging with businesses.
In a country where jobs available do not match the number and skill set of students that graduate every year, vocational education can be seen as the solution to the situation. A review of the curriculum, reallocation of the education budget to include a larger share for vocational education, and partnerships between government and private organizations are some of the approaches governments can use to promote vocational education.