|Technical and Vocational Education and Training in the 21st Century: New Roles and Challenges for Guidance and Counselling (IAC - IAEVG - UNESCO, 2002, 149 p.)|
Todays world is one of rapid change in virtually all dimensions of life. The globalization of trade means that decisions in one country may have an impact on employment opportunities in another country where values and priorities are very different. Globalization of the labour market means that workers have greater mobility across borders, yet opportunities are not uniform from one country to another or in different segments of society within a given country. There is a greater need for specialized education and training, but in some countries a tendency to cling to traditional priorities results in a shortage of workers in certain specialized fields. There is a widening gap between the rich and the poor, those who can seize opportunities and those who are marginalized, and those who have received an education and those who have not. The days of job stability (which some would argue never existed) are over for many, and are being replaced by a context where flexibility, adaptability, and transferability of skills are essential (Avis, 1997; King, 1993).
Yet within this context of change some familiar features remain. In most countries, women continue to earn less than men. Equal pay for work of equal value is a commonly expressed goal that is seldom put into practice, even in so-called developed countries (Jackson, 1989). In many countries, prestige and status continue to be attached to university education, and young people (and their parents) seek career paths in the so-called professional occupations, even though in many countries there are few employment opportunities in the profession for which they wish to train.
Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is often regarded as inferior, or as a second choice after professional education, regardless of the students interests (indeed passions) or abilities. Many people therefore dismiss promising and meaningful career paths in areas where employment demand is greater, simply because of the stigma attached to technical and vocational occupations. Education systems continue to be directed primarily towards preparation for university education, even though the majority of students move directly into the labour force (Heinz, Kelle, Witzel & Zinn, 1998; King, 1993; Morris, 1996).
In some countries, there is a clash between the new world priorities and the traditional cultures. People are seen washing in rivers in front of houses with satellite dishes. Countries import workers to fill blue-collar jobs while their own young people seek training in professions in which there are few or no openings. The investment in training often goes unrealized, as young people drop out of training, or having completed it do not enter the occupational field for which they have been trained. In some countries, lip-service is paid to the values of the so-called developed countries, but these values often find little favour with the bulk of the population.
There are numerous examples suggesting that countries that are developing or redeveloping their industrial and technological capacities need to think carefully before adopting the policies of well-intentioned neighbours. The following are some examples.
· An intergovernmental aid project in Latin America brought canned soft drinks into small towns where there was no clean drinking water. What an order of priorities!
· In another project in Latin America, local farmers ploughed up their fields of maize to grow flowers to sell to the United States of America in order to meet their cash flow targets. This was successful financially, but maize is a staple food in the area (being used to make tortillas) and now an area once able to produce all the maize it needed grows flowers for export but imports its staple food.
· In a similar paradox, an example was recently cited of women working together in a local craft guild, watching wide-eyed as an ox cart loaded with computers drew up. The computers were to help them to be better entrepreneurs!
Programmes need to be developed that focus clearly on locally and regionally evolving economic, social and cultural needs. A rush to adopt alternative systems often means that local needs, values and ways of doing business are relegated to second place and that informal learning and informal economies that produce transferable skill sets are overlooked.
In addition to avoiding training programmes that may not meet the needs of a region or country, areas that are in the process of creating a training infrastructure may want to consider alternative ways of conceptualizing it. One problem in many areas of the world where TVET has been established is the relatively low status ascribed to it within the context of the broader educational community (King, 1993; Morris, 1996; Wright, 2000). This can lead young people and their parents to question the legitimacy of the education and training offered. This has occurred in the contexts where education is considered as a hierarchical structure, often with universities at the top and TVET institutions nearer the bottom (King, 1993; Morris, 1996; Wright, 2000). Given the need for all types of education and training opportunities now and in the future, it may be more useful to replace the traditional hierarchical structures with one that might be seen as consisting, instead of circles of education and training. This new structure would value each type of education and training for its contribution to the educational and vocational fulfilment of individuals and to the economic, social and cultural well-being of communities and regions. This paradigm would also need to allow movement across and within circles, and the process of movement would need to be clear and transparent. Given the orientation towards lifelong learning that will be needed by individuals in all educational and training settings, this paradigm may be much more useful in that it attaches value to all occupational roles and recognizes the contribution they make to society at large.
Before proceeding, it is important to outline the way in which some key terms are used in this monograph. In many cases, there are no universally accepted definitions. It is thus important for us to define key terms so that readers know the meanings we attach to them.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
In 1999, at the Second International Congress on Technical and Vocational Education in Seoul and at the 30th session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, it was agreed to adopt the phrase Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to describe the combined process of education and training and recognize the common objective of employment as their immediate goal. The congress emphasized that TVET should be a multi-domain concern, requiring collaborative and integrated approaches. TVET programmes should be designed as comprehensive and inclusive systems, accommodating the needs of all learners and accessible to all. Special efforts were needed to reach marginalized groups and programmes should be designed to facilitate entry into the mainstream. TVET programmes needed to be gender-balanced, attracting men into previously female-dominated occupations and attracting women into previously male-dominated occupations. TVET is an integral component of lifelong learning and as such plays a crucial role in helping individuals and countries to achieve a culture of peace, environmentally-sound sustainable development, social cohesion and international citizenship (UNESCO, 1999).
Career development is the lifelong process of managing learning, work and transitions in order to move towards a personally determined and evolving preferred future. Career development programmes and services support are designed to support and assist people in managing these transitions (CCDF, 2001).
Career information, guidance and counselling services
Career information, guidance and counselling services are services intended to help individuals, of any age and at any point in their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers. It includes a wide range of activities, for example activities in schools to help students clarify career goals and understand the world of work; personal or group-based assistance with decisions concerning initial courses of study, courses of vocational training, further education and training, initial job choice, job change, or work force re-entry; computer-based or on-line services to provide information about jobs and careers or to help individuals make career choices; and services to produce and disseminate information about jobs, courses of study and vocational training. It includes services provided to those who have not yet entered the labour force, services to job-seekers, and services to those who are in employment.
Career information, guidance and counselling services are intended to assist individuals with their career management. They often overlap with other forms of personal services, such as job placement, personal counselling, community-based personal mentoring, welfare advice and educational psychology. Frequently, these other services are delivered by people who also deliver career information, guidance and counselling, but there are often separate guidance services that do not provide career information, guidance or counselling (OECD, 2001). Perhaps it is time to examine the effectiveness and utility of separated services as compared to a more integrated approach.
Career guidance refers to assistance given to individuals, or groups of individuals, in addressing problems related to occupational and life choices, offering full opportunities for personal development and work satisfaction. Career guidance is a continuous process, the fundamental principles of which are the same irrespective of the age of the individuals involved, and with due regard for the characteristics of those individuals and their opportunities (IAEVG, 1992).
Career counselling helps individuals to achieve greater self-awareness, develop a life/work direction, increase their understanding of learning and work opportunities and become more self-directed in managing learning, work and transitions. Career counselling facilitates the acquisition of skills, interests, beliefs, values, work habits and personal qualities enabling each participant to create a satisfying life in constantly changing cultural, social and work environments.
An explanatory note
Although advice, guidance and counselling each have the ability to help an individual through interaction with a person possessing a specific body of knowledge, they differ in focus and scope. Advice is focused primarily on the problem at hand and is typically generated from a perspective external to the individual. Advice is the prescription of a particular course of action regarding the presenting problem (Cormier & Cormier, 1991). Guidance is much broader in scope, as the information provided focuses on relevant knowledge or options pertaining to the persons concerns or goals. It is, however, the individual who decides on her/his own course of action (Cormier & Cormier, 1991). Finally, counselling creates a climate where individuals can explore, examine and clarify their own thoughts, feelings and actions to arrive at the answers that are best for them (Corey, 1996; Hoexter, 1999). Counselling promotes an exploration of self, to identify the course of action that best suits the person, and her/ his own values or goals, thereby helping the individual to live in a more personally fulfilling manner (Blocher 1987; Hoexter, 1999).
Key issues to address
Technical and vocational education and training represents a comprehensive and inclusive approach, intended to help people achieve their full educational and vocational potential and in so doing make meaningful contributions to the communities in which they live. In considering the implementation, maintenance or expansion of technical and vocational education opportunities, it is important to consider some fundamental issues and challenges.
· Two prevailing orientations in TVET are a human resource-driven approach and a market-driven approach (Jakupec & McTaggart, 1997; King, 1993; Morris, 1996; Ziderman, 1997). Given the potential advantages and drawbacks of each, how can a balance be achieved between the two within a given country or region? For example, some TVET is geared towards training individuals in skills relevant for a specific job in a particular factory. These skills may not readily generalize to jobs in other factories or other occupations. Even if the skills are generalizable, the individuals involved may not realize it.
· What mechanisms are in place, in TVET and related educational and vocational programmes, for recognizing prior learning and transferable skills in order to optimize flexible and ongoing access to programmes as the needs of the labour market and individuals evolve and change? How are TVET and related educational and vocational programmes working with employers in recognizing prior learning and transferable skills? In addressing these questions it is important to consider learning arising from the formal and informal economy, as well as from paid and unpaid work. TVET programmes need to be designed to be flexible enough to anticipate and accommodate the impact of ongoing global changes on community and regional labour market needs and demands.
· TVET programmes exist within the context of a range of other educational and training opportunities. In addressing the stigma often attached to TVET (Ecclestone, 1997; King, 1993; Morris, 1996; Wright, 2000), as has already been suggested, it may be useful to consider educational opportunities within a nonhierarchical system, for example using the paradigm of circles of training rather than levels of training. It would then be easier to consider how TVET programmes could be more effectively linked to community, regional, or country-based training opportunities in order to respond to evolving labour market needs.
· How can companies, corporations and businesses develop into thinking and learning organizations that anticipate the training and educational needs of workers in order to maintain sustainability in the marketplace, and to help individual workers to recognize the generalizability of their skills?
· Everyone is involved in lifelong learning, whether intentionally or unintentionally. How can a guidance and counselling infrastructure be created that can assist individuals in making informed decisions about entering TVET programmes and teach them skills enabling them to make decisions to access further training as needed or desired? How can these services develop a focus of assisting individuals to consider educational and training opportunities within the context of a broader life-plan? How can these services help individuals to become more self-sustaining in adjusting to changing educational and labour market opportunities?
· What mechanisms are in place, or need to be developed, to help ensure equal opportunity of access to TVET? It is important to address ongoing issues related to increasing gender balance in the workforce (European Training Foundation, 2000c, 2000d, 2001c; Heinz et al., 1998; Jofre, 1998; Thurtle et al., 1998) and to broadening access independent of culture (Avis, 1997; Chinese Education & Society, 1999; European Training Foundation, 2000c, 2000d, 2001c; King, 1993; Torres & Arnott, 1999; Wright, 2000) or socio-economic status (Avis, 1997; European Training Foundation, 2000c, 2000d, 2001c; Heinz et al., 1998; King, 1993; Torres & Arnott, 1999; Wright, 2000)
· TVET contributes to social and cultural changes that need to be considered and anticipated. For example, young people working in foreign countries that are importing workers may contribute to the income of an extended family while at the same time their absence weakens its cohesiveness. What infrastructures and support systems can be created to accommodate these changes?
· Productive nations are those characterized by a flexible and well-qualified labour force, one with a rich and diverse mix of skills that are developed and updated throughout life (Power, 1999), a process for which individuals, organizations and government bodies share responsibility. Infrastructures are needed and mechanisms are required to help to create a sense of commitment and purposefulness on the part of workers and organizations. This may be most effectively accomplished through the development of guidance and counselling services to facilitate a spirit of openness to change, a commitment to continual personal and occupational development, and a corresponding increase in the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to develop a sense of personal empowerment and be successful within a context of rapid change. For example, some countries are utilizing a process of individualization to help each student find his/her own, tailored way through the educational options. A whole new group of career development staff, known as tutors, are now helping each student to do this (Plant, 2000). The outcomes of processes such as these will help ensure that informed decisions are made regarding appropriate educational and training programmes for each individual, thereby meeting the needs of all learners and helping to reduce the chronic problem of high dropout rates (European Training Foundation, 2000c, 2000d, 2001c; Imel, 1993; Thiel, 1985).
The purpose of this monograph is to outline and discuss issues relevant to TVET at the beginning of the twenty-first century. TVET is most directly concerned with the acquisition of the knowledge and skills required for the world of work, formal and informal, urban and rural (Power, 1999). Each chapter contains a discussion and examples of emerging trends and challenges, and the new perspectives and skills needed to provide quality services in differing cultural and social contexts. The structure of the monograph is as follows:
Understanding the Context of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, provides the background necessary to understand the complexities of the issues addressed in the remainder of the monograph.
Building Community Capacity, discusses how we can help communities increase their capacity to support meaningful work-roles for people, regardless of the availability of paid employment.
Career Guidance and Counselling for Lifelong Learning in a Global Economy, discusses the role of guidance and counselling in making lifelong learning a reality, dealing with the complexities of newly-emerging market economies, and making sure that both formal and informal economies are taken into account.
Basic Education and TVET, describes the role of guidance and counselling in promoting the integration of TVET and basic education, helping to make sure that TVET is a viable first option, not just a second or third alternative.
Reaching Marginalized People: Linking Skills Training and the World of Work, describes how we can more effectively meet the needs of particular groups, such as women, individuals with special needs, out-of-school youth, rural and remote populations, indigenous people and the homeless, and suggests ways of ensuring that policy-makers, government and the private sector recognize that TVET is an investment and not a drain on resources.
Workplace Wellness and Worker Well-being, discusses factors affecting the health and wellness of people and organizations, looking at factors in the physical environment and also the social and emotional environment in the workplace.
Building Positive Work Habits and Attitudes, examines the importance of developing a sense of industry in workers, creating a context that helps people develop a sense of contributing to the organization rather than just pursuing their own personal goals, of being focused, developing personal agency and a sense of personal empowerment, both for themselves and for the organization in which they are working.
Where To From Here? Guidance and Counselling Connecting with TVET, concludes with thoughts and points to challenges arising from some of the monographs recurring themes.
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