|Technical and Vocational Education and Training for the Twenty-First Century - UNESCO and ILO Recommendations (ILO - UNESCO, 2001, 71 p.)|
1. A critical challenge that faces human society at the start of the twenty-first century is to attain full employment and sustained economic growth in the global economy and social inclusivity. The ILO's framework of decent work addresses both the quality and quantity of employment and provides a basis for new education and training policies and strategies. Human resources development, education and training contribute significantly to promoting the interests of individuals, enterprises, economy and society. By making individuals employable and informed citizens, human resources development and training contribute to economic development and to achieving full employment and promoting social inclusion. They also help individuals to gain access to decent work and good jobs, and escape poverty and marginalization. Education and skills formation could lead to less unemployment and to more equity in employment. The economy and society at large, like individuals and enterprises, benefit from human resources development and training. The economy becomes more productive, innovative and competitive through the existence of more skilled human potential. Human resources development and training also underpin the fundamental values of society - equity, justice, gender equality, nondiscrimination, social responsibility, and participation.
2. Technological changes, changes in financial markets, the emergence of global markets for products and services, international competition, dramatic increases in foreign direct investment, new business strategies, new management practices, new forms of business organization and of the organization of work are among the more significant developments that are transforming the world of work. Many of these developments are also components of globalization which is the name given to the various processes producing the dramatically increased integration of economic activity in the world today. These developments offer both opportunities and challenges for enterprises, workers and countries. For enterprises increased competition has meant more winners and losers. For countries globalization has increased both national development and disadvantages as globalization has exacerbated differences in the relative advantages of countries. For some workers these developments have resulted in career opportunities or successful self-employment, improved living standards and prosperity but for other workers they have resulted in job insecurity or unemployment, declining living standards and poverty. Many of these developments are dramatically increasing the importance of the application of human knowledge and skills to economic activity. Human resources development, education and training are necessary and essential elements required to take both full advantage of the opportunities and to rise to the challenges of these developments for enterprises, workers and countries. There is a growing recognition that globalization has a social dimension that requires a social response. Education and training are components to both the economic and social response to globalization.
3. Education and training cannot alone address this challenge, but should go hand-in-hand with economic, employment and other policies to establish, in an equitable manner, the new knowledge and skills-based society in the global economy. Education and training have distinct but converging outcomes as society is changing. They have both a dual rationale: develop skills and knowledge that will help countries, enterprises and individuals utilize the new opportunities and enhance the employability, productivity and income-earning capacity of many population groups that have been adversely affected by globalization and changes in society at large. Education and training are necessary for economic and employment growth and social development. They also contribute to personal growth and provide the foundation of an informed citizenry. Education and training are a means to empower people, improve the quality and organization of work, enhance citizens' productivity, raise workers' incomes, improve enterprise competitiveness, promote job security and social equity and inclusion. Education and training are therefore a central pillar of decent work. Education and training help individuals become more employable in rapidly changing internal and external labour markets.
4. Human resources training and development are fundamental, but are by themselves insufficient to ensure sustainable economic and social development, or resolve the aggregate employment challenge. They should be coherent and form an integrated part of comprehensive economic, labour market and social policies and programmes that promote economic and employment growth. Policies that expand aggregate demand in the economy such as macroeconomic and other measures must be combined with supply-side policies, e.g. science and technology, education and training, and industrial and enterprise policies. Appropriate fiscal policies, social security and collective bargaining are among the means to distribute these economic gains on a fair and equitable basis, and constitute basic incentives to invest in training. Pursuing these integrated policies requires consideration of a new financial and social architecture for the global economy, a subject for ILO research.
5. It is the task of basic education to ensure to each individual the full development of the human personality and citizenship; and to lay the foundation for employability. Initial training develops further his or her employability by providing general core work skills, and the underpinning knowledge, and industry-based and professional competencies which are portable and facilitate the transition into the world of work. Lifelong learning ensures that the individual's skills and competencies are maintained and improved as work, technology and skill requirements change; ensures the personal and career development of workers; results in increases in aggregate productivity and income; and improves social equity. Both in developed countries as well as in developing countries there are many workers without the basic skills for literacy and numeracy. National and international strategies have to be developed to eliminate illiteracy, based on concrete targets, benchmarks and quality assessment.
6. Education and training of high quality are major instruments to improve overall socio-economic conditions and to prevent and combat social exclusion and discrimination, particularly in employment. In order to be effective they must cover everyone, including disadvantaged groups. Therefore, they must be carefully targeted at women and persons with special needs, including rural workers; people with disabilities; older workers; the long-term unemployed, including low-skilled workers; young people; migrant workers; and workers laid off as a result of economic reform programmes, or industrial and enterprise restructuring. In addressing the needs of these groups, particularly of young people, access to a combination of formal, off-the-job, and workplace learning should be systematically offered and developed as it provides for effective learning outcomes and increases the chance of entering the labour market.
7. Training can be one of the instruments that, together with other measures, address the challenge of the informal sector. The informal sector is not a sector in the traditional sense of economic classification but a name given to the economic activity of persons in a variety of situations, most of which are survival activities. Informal sector work is unprotected work that is, for the most part, characterized by low earnings and low productivity. The role of training is not to prepare people for the informal sector and keep them in the informal sector; or to expand the informal sector; but rather it should go in conjunction with other instruments, such as fiscal policies, provision of credit, and extension of social protection and labour laws, to improve the performance of enterprises and the employability of workers in order to transform what are often marginal, survival activities into decent work fully integrated into mainstream economic life. Prior learning and skills gained in the sector should be validated, as they will help the said workers gain access to the formal labour market. The social partners should be fully involved in developing these programmes.
8. Education and training are a right for all. Governments, in cooperation with the social partners, should ensure that this right is universally accessible. It is the responsibility of all persons to make use of the opportunities offered. Free universal, quality public primary and secondary education must be made available to all children, and they should not be denied sustained access to education through child labour. Education cannot be separated from training. Basic and secondary education is the foundation on which an effective vocational education and training system should be built. Good quality basic education and initial training, availability of adult and second chance education, together with a learning culture, ensure high levels of participation in continuous education and training. Qualified teachers and trainers are the fundamental key to providing quality education for helping children and adults reach high standards in academic and vocational competencies. Their recruitment, remuneration, education, training and retraining, assignment and provision of adequate facilities are critical elements of any successful educational system.
In addition to education and training, career guidance and job placement services (career development services) embracing career education, career counselling, employment counselling and educational, vocational and labour market information, all have a crucial role to play in human resources development. The fostering of a career development culture throughout education, training systems as well as employment services is a means to promote continuous learning. The development of this culture among youth and adults will be of particular importance for ensuring their employability and facilitating their transition from education and training to work or further training.
9. Employability is defined broadly. It is a key outcome of education and training of high quality, as well as a range of other policies. It encompasses the skills, knowledge and competencies that enhance a worker's ability to secure and retain a job, progress at work and cope with change, secure another job if she/he so wishes or has been laid off, and enter more easily into the labour market at different periods of the life cycle. Individuals are most employable when they have broad-based education and training, basic and portable high-level skills, including teamwork, problem solving, information and communications technology (ICT) and communication and language skills, learning to learn skills, and competencies to protect themselves and their colleagues against occupational hazards and diseases. This combination of skills enables them to adapt to changes in the world of work. Employability also covers multiple skills that are essential to secure and retain decent work. Entrepreneurship can contribute to creating opportunities for employment and hence to employability. Employability is, however, not a function only of training - it requires a range of other instruments which results in the existence of jobs, the enhancement of quality jobs, and sustainable employment. Workers' employability can only be sustained in an economic environment that promotes job growth and rewards individual and collective investments in human resources training and development.
10. There is tripartite and international consensus about guaranteeing universal access of all to, and increasing and optimizing overall investment in, basic education, initial training and continuous training. Discrimination which limits access to training should be combated both by anti-discrimination regulations as well as by common action of social partners. These principles have been endorsed already in the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy adopted by the Governing Body, 1977. The Committee endorsed the core commitments made in the Cologne Charter of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations (G8) in 1999 calling for renewed commitment of all partners to lifelong learning: "... by governments, investing to enhance education and training at all levels; by the private sector, training existing and future employees; by individuals, developing their own abilities and careers". However, structural adjustment programmes, restrictive fiscal policies, low wages, debt repayment obligations, decline of development assistance flows, competitive price pressures on enterprises and lack of resources of large sections of the population in a number of cases induce governments, enterprises and individuals to under-invest in education and training. Furthermore, market uncertainties, poaching of skills by other enterprises and the growth of insecure forms of work and consequential high turnover of staff may reduce enterprises' incentives to invest in training. This is especially true for the least developed countries, most of which are in Africa, given their dire socio-economic situation. The culture of developing, on a continuous basis, individual and collective skills for enhanced productivity and employability in a rapidly changing environment has to be improved further.
11. The cost of education and training should be seen as an investment. Increasing this investment can be fostered by recognizing that investing in education and training can be a shared responsibility of both the public and private sector. Government must always assume the primary responsibility for investing in basic education and initial training, and it should also invest in other forms of training. Government must also share the greatest responsibility for investments directed at groups where combating social exclusion or discrimination is an important objective. With respect to the responsibility of individuals, the government must also share responsibility in order that access not be denied on financial grounds and to the detriment of the broader interest of society. Government, as an employer, must also assume responsibility to invest in training. With respect to the private sector, the responsibilities of both enterprises and individuals should be recognized and, where appropriate, encouraged. These responsibilities are especially appropriate with respect to investment in workplace-based and continuous education, which can raise workers' employability and the competitiveness of enterprises. The organization and implementation of private sector responsibilities in this area can best be accomplished through partnerships between the government and enterprises, between government and the social partners or between the social partners. Ensuring increased investment for SMEs is especially suitable to a partnership approach.
12. There is no universal model of investing in training. Governments should create a general economic environment and incentives conducive to encourage individuals and enterprises to invest individually or jointly in education and training. This investment and the responsibility for it should generally be determined by the objectives of training, e.g. individual, enterprise or societal objectives. Countries can use different ways and means to foster investment in training and increase resources for training. Enterprises have a critical role to play in investment in training. A number of mechanisms used in combination to further investment in training and to guarantee access are required. These may include levy systems on enterprises accompanied by public grants, establishment of training funds, various incentives for training and learning, e.g. tax rebates, training credits, training awards, individual training accounts, collective and individual training rights, sabbatical leave, collective training agreements and emulation of national and international best practices of investing in training. The chosen mechanisms should take into account the special needs of the SMEs. Where levies are the chosen mechanism for funding training, the governance of funding distribution should be tripartite, or where these are agreed by the social partners, such governance should be bipartite. Decisions regarding government policies on education and training should be based on genuine tripartite dialogue and give the tripartite partners the opportunity to develop the best ways and means to increase investments in training. Measures such as the provision of childcare facilities are needed to facilitate access to training. One means of encouraging countries and companies to increase current efforts possibly differentiated for different regions of the world, size of companies or sector of industry, as a mirror and point of orientation for countries, sectors, and companies.
13. Flatter hierarchical structures, and devolved decision-making, initiative and control, also widen the need for higher-level skills and training, and result in increased responsibility for workers. ICT is accelerating these management trends and changes in the world of work in general.
ICT has the potential to improve enormously people's access to quality education and training, including in the workplace. There is however a danger that these technologies may create a "digital divide" and worsen existing inequalities in education and training between urban and rural areas, between rich and poor, between those who possess and those who lack literacy and numeracy skills and between developed and developing countries. Countries should expand their investment in the infrastructure needed for use of ICT, in education and training hardware and software, and in the training of teachers and trainers. Such investments should be undertaken by both the public and private sectors, and make use of collaborative local, national and international networks. Governments may also provide incentives for the private sector and individuals to encourage computer literacy and to develop new communication skills. New modes and methods need to be deployed for training and learning when using ICT.
Distance-learning methods can be used to make training available at convenient times, at accessible places or at reduced costs. Distance learning should not replace all other learning or teaching methods but can be a valuable part of the total teaching tools available. Distance learning should, as far as possible, be combined with traditional training methods in order to avoid a sense of isolation of the learner. The social framework for training needs to be adapted to these new forms of training.
14. The many driving forces, as mentioned in paragraph 2, have a significant impact on organization and working methods of companies. Also, new sectors are emerging, many of them based on the use of ICT products and services, including the Internet. All this increases demand for new skills and competencies, including personal skills and ICT competencies. Education and training need to respond to these new demands, both those related to ICT and those related to changing work organization.
15. Electronic networking provides opportunities for learners to assist each other more actively, for learners to be more active in the training and education process, and for formal and non-conventional teaching methods to be utilized. In order to apply ICT in training, trainers must master these technologies and be systematically trained. Teaching methods need to be updated to accommodate the teaching of new developments in ICT, new types of organization of schools should be devised to take full advantage of ICT; and the individual needs to learn self-learning methods. New training is needed to provide trainers and individuals with these skills. Enterprises may provide ICT facilities or support schemes for workers for the use of ICT at home or in general, and to schools or other training providers, in order to promote the diffusion of ICT skills and access in society. Appropriate government incentives could facilitate this development.
16. For many developing countries, the challenges are much more basic. Societies with huge and growing levels of adult illiteracy, and massive debt crises, will not be able to design, fund or implement the modern education and training policies which are prerequisites for development and economic growth. In the age of the knowledge society, 884 million adults are illiterate, unable to operate effectively even with the intellectual tools of the "old economy". UNESCO estimates that, in the least developed countries, while 144 million adults were illiterate in 1985, by 2005 this will rise to 188 million - in other words, the number of illiterate adults will grow by 30 per cent in the least developed countries. Additionally, structural adjustment programmes have in specific instances operated to reduce public investment in education, thus further weakening the longer term capacity for economic growth and development.
Much of the developing world lacks access to the physical infrastructure through which much of the new knowledge is pulsing. The lack of electricity and telephones, the cost of computers and Internet access, all contribute to deprive citizens, enterprises and workers in developing countries from benefiting from the ICT revolution, and create the conditions for a "digital divide" to grow between countries. Developing countries should make greater efforts to invest in ICT and to develop ICT-appropriate methods of teaching rather than simply adding computers to existing teaching methods.
The international community should, as part of creating the conditions for skills formation in the least developed economies, undertake bold and substantial debt relief, or, where appropriate, debt cancellation; help mobilize resources for programmes to secure basic literacy and numeracy and the development of communication and information infrastructure; and assist with training in the new information and communication technologies. This is a direct challenge to the ILO and international development agencies.
Multinational corporations should be encouraged to agree fair technology transfer agreements, to develop local high-level skills in developing countries, and to help create the infrastructure for the new knowledge economy. The contributions to development that multinational companies can make through training as elaborated in the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy should be recalled.
These measures, taken together, contribute to developing the economies and societies of the poorest parts of the world. They provide a ladder through which developing countries can move up the value chain in production, making goods and providing services which add significant economic value, and which receive significant economic return in the global economy. Education and training is one of the packages of measures to leapfrog from underdevelopment to the information society.
In developing an education and training base in developing countries, the existence of new technology can open up new possibilities and possibly save costs on more traditional methods. This is a major challenge for the developing countries to invest in ICT and develop appropriate policies.
Closer collaboration is needed between the ILO, UNESCO and other international organizations; regional organizations, such as the EU and MERCOSUR; and donor countries that place high priority on human resources development and training. It should also work more closely with international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and regional development banks, to ensure that structural adjustment programmes do not inhibit investments in education and training. Greater national and international efforts also should be made to eradicate illiteracy worldwide. All of these measures and support can only be effective if the developing countries make efforts to set up policies and programmes to promote economic growth and develop their human talent.
17. The development of a national qualifications framework is in the interest of enterprises and workers as it facilitates lifelong learning, helps enterprises and employment agencies match skill demand with supply, and guides individuals in their choice of training and career. The framework should consist of a number of elements: appropriate, transferable, broad and industry-based and professional competency standards, established by the social partners, that reflect the skills required in the economy and public institutions, and vocational and academic qualifications; and a credible, fair and transparent system of assessment of skills learned and competencies gained, irrespective of how and where they have been learned, e.g. through formal and nonformal education and training, work experience and on-the-job learning.
Every person should have the opportunity to have his or her experiences and skills gained through work, through society or through formal and non-formal training assessed, recognized and certified. Programmes to compensate for skill deficits by individuals through increased access to education and training should be made available as part of recognition of prior learning programmes. Assessment should identify skill gaps, be transparent, and provide a guide to the learner and training provider. The framework should also include a credible system of certification of skills that are portable and recognized across enterprises, sectors, industries and educational institutions, whether public or private.
The assessment methodology should be fair, linked to standards, and be nondiscriminatory. Potential hidden discrimination should be actively guarded against. For example, the shift to the service sector, with an overall stronger female component, often relies on greater communication and problem-solving skills, which are not always explicitly recognized. Similarly, testing systems conducted in an individual's second language sometimes distort results of technical and other skills possessed. New forms of work organization often shift the skills requirements within an enterprise. For example, flatter managerial structures are predicated on shifting certain responsibilities from management to the workforce. These should result in explicit recognition of the new competencies required by the workforce under these circumstances; and reward systems have to take these into account.
The vocational qualifications system should be tripartite, offer access to workers and anybody wanting to learn, should cover public and private training providers and be updated on a continuous basis. It should ensure multiple entry and exit points in the education and training system during a worker's career. The ILO should develop a database on best practices in developing a national qualifications framework, conduct a general study on the comparability of different national qualifications frameworks based on this database, and undertake research into recognition of prior learning.
18. Trade unions and employer associations may also contribute to training by managing their own training institutions and providing education for their members. Particularly at the sector and enterprise levels, collective bargaining can set appropriate conditions for the organization and implementation of training. Such collective bargaining could encompass issues such as:
· skills required by the enterprise and the economy;
· training necessary for workers;
· assessment of basic skills and skills gained either in the workplace or during individual or associative activities;
· development of career paths for workers;
· personal training and development plans for workers;
· facilities needed to allow the maximum benefits from training;
· recognition and reward schemes, including remuneration structuring.
19. The social partners should strengthen social dialogue on training, share responsibility in formulating education and training policies, and engage in partnerships with each other or with governments for investing in, planning and implementing training. In training, networks of cooperation also include regional and local government, various ministries, sector and professional bodies, training institutions and providers, non-governmental organizations, etc. Government should establish a framework for effective social dialogue and partnerships in training and employment. This should result in a coordinated education and training policy at national level, and long-term strategies, which are formulated in consultation with the social partners and are integrated with economic and employment policies. It should also include tripartite, national and sector training arrangements, and provide for a transparent and comprehensive training and labour market information system. Enterprises are primarily responsible for training their employees and apprentices, but also share responsibility in initial vocational training of young people to meet their future needs.
20. The scope and effectiveness of social dialogue and partnerships in training is currently limited by the capacity and resources of actors. It varies between countries, sectors and large and small enterprises. Recent regional economic integration also brings a new dimension to social dialogue on training and the need for capacity building. There is a pressing need to raise this capacity by various means such as technical cooperation, public grants to trade union and employer organizations, and exchanging experience and best practices between countries. Education and training in industrial relations and on trade union education, business administration and the social contribution by the work and the organization of the social partners, should also be an integral part of capacity building and a part of initial and vocational training. Being a tripartite organization, the ILO should lead international cooperation to build up capacities for social dialogue and partnership building in training. Additional efforts should be made for the benefit of developing countries.
21. Terms of reference for a review of the Human Resources Development Recommendation, 1975, (No. 150), should be based on the present conclusions, adopted by the International Labour Conference at its 88th Session, 2000, the conclusions of the Cologne Charter 1999, and the statements on this subject jointly made by international employer and trade union organizations; and should include the following:
(1) address training and education needs in the modern world of work in both developing and developed countries, and promote social equity in the global economy;
(2) advance the decent work concept through defining the role of education and training;
(3) promote lifelong learning, enhance employability of the world's workers, and address the economic challenges;
(4) recognize the various responsibilities for investment and funding of education and training;
(5) promote national, regional and international qualifications frameworks which include provisions for prior learning;
(6) improve access and equity of opportunity for all workers to education and training;
(7) build the capacity of the social partners for partnerships in education and training;
(8) address the need for increased technical and financial assistance for the less advantaged countries and societies.
Recommendation No. 150 should be revised in order to reflect the new approach to training. Although some aspects of the Recommendation are still valid, others have lost their relevance. There is a need for a more dynamic instrument that is more applicable and used by member States and the social partners in formulating and implementing human resources development policies, integrated with other economic and social policies, particularly employment policies. A new recommendation should be complemented by a practical guide and database that can be renewed on a continuous basis by the Office as part of its normal work.