|Policy Development and Implementation of Technical and Vocational Education for Economic Development in Asia and the Pacific - Conference Proceedings - UNESCO - UNEVOC Regional Conference (RMIT, 1997, 520 p.)|
S. ZAHEER A. GILLANI
The state of development of an economy and well-being of the people of a country are directly related to the quantity and quality of education in general and technical education in particular. Education is a cultural force that shapes styles of living and working. Education has dialectic character in that it tends to preserve and stabilize culture (conservation function) and, at the same time, it is an instrument to promote cultural change (progressive function). In other words, no cultural change is possible against or without education, nor will education alone trigger cultural change.
Low productivity and poor living standards vis-a-vis national economic development effort are amongst the major concerns of every society. Economic development, in the ultimate analysis, depends on human resources development. Technical Education, today, has become a key factor in economic growth. A better technician can not only be a better citizen but also a better factor of production through improved productivity and adopting a better life style. Therefore, technical education should be arranged and promoted as much as possible.
Education has given rise to the phenomenon of technological change which has also direct interconnections with the process of cultural change, the standard of development and well-being of a people is how indicated by the technological capacity and capability of a national. Technological development is seminal to social and economic development of nation. Technology is prime mover of industrial development and industry is back bone of our economy. Technological and industrial development intern depends heavily on development of human resources of appropriate quality and quantity. The training function, in this way, assumes a pivotal role in the productivity enhancement process.
The improvement of productivity and living standards in every country is inseparably linked to and dependent on the rapid adaptation of scientific and technological methods of production. But we face the challenge to hurry through this adaption process in much too short a time where as the industrialized world, without population and political pressures and using the dependent colonized world as an additional resource base, had more than 200 years to gradually build up knowledge and attitudes on how to live with complex production methods and automated service systems.
We are living in an age of un precidented technological change. The phenomenon of technological innovation has fastened the process of obsolescence. Every day hundreds of new processes and products trickle down from the laboratories to the marked place. This demands new orientation of existing technical manpower and creates market for new jobs and skills. We can neither develop nor sustain our development tempo without addressing to our manpower development needs.
Fast industrialization is key to economic development. Rapid industrialization requires technology and human resources can be raised by cultural change through meaningful technical and vocational education and appropriate transfer of technology. In this connection the basic requirements include;
- Awareness of technology
- Understanding of technology to be acquire
- Understanding of possible applications of existing technology and willingness to apply it.
- Training to produce required skilled personnel
- Multi-skilled workers and technicians who can adopt to new tasks and technologies and are capable of contributing forwards creating new product and manufacturing designs. Thus generating a new breed of technicians and workers is necessary to make the efforts of technology transplantion in industry a success.
Skilled workers and technicians play key role sin all sectors of the economy. They learn their skills in a variety of ways and at different time during their life time, during employment through on-the-job training, self-study, formal and informal apprenticeship formal training provided by the employers; and before employment in the vocational and technical institutions. Investment in the development of these skills by individuals, employers and the state is justified by the economic value of improved productivity which intern contributes substantial to economic growth. Therefore, the main objective of any TVET programme should be improvement of productivity in various sectors.
Countries the world over are undertaking the important and complex task of restructuring and expanding educational systems to meet their development requirements. They are giving serious attention to the role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as part of the total effort. Planners, educationists, and political leaders regard the development of TVET as the corner stone of education and training systems that are designed to serve the needs of both society and individuals. Throughout the world, there is general agreement that productivity throughout the economy must be improved if a country has to compete successfully in a rapidly changing socio-economic and technological environment. Besides capital investment, a flexible workforce capable of acquiring new skills for changing jobs is necessary. Highly skilled human resources are essential to develop and use capital and technology.
The uptake, operation and diffusion of modern technology in the productive and services sectors in basically a matter of technical training of the labour force and investment of resources for the domestic build up and inflow of technology from abroad. To enlarge and diversify the adoption of new processes and use of modern machines it is necessary to match the requisite training facilities with the growing requirement for skilled manpower. The introduction of better techniques in the traditional, transitional and progressive segments of the economy is linked with the supply of duly trained manpower. The establishment, expansion and improvement of training centres like NTTTC and strengthening of arrangements for on-the-job skill learning is pivotal for the technological progress.
The technical/vocational education in Asia and Pacific region faces great challenges to meet the requirements of the country, such as:
* full employment economy
* impact of rapid technological change
* emerging and declining occupations
* changing skill requirements of employment people budgetary constraints
These objectives can only be achieved by a bold and open strategy of involving all the stake holders in designing, implementing and beneficiating from technical education endeavors. This is easier said then doen. This involves clarity of mind. Dedication, painstaking and selfless untiring efforts of our educationists, technologists and industrialists. This is highly satisfying that NTTTC has taken an initiative and though their sheer hard work and stead fastness they have made dream come true. The industry has done an equally appreciable jobs. They spent their time and money in making this concept a reality. I congratulate them on this wonderful achievement. A good start has been made, it must accelerate rather than degeneration over period. The Ministry of Education will provide all possible patronage and encouragement to NTTTC to keep the pace and head towards becoming a technical education institution suitable to the demands of ethnological age.
The role of technology as an engine of economic growth is universally recognized. Technology is indeed the foundation for development of new products and processes. It leads to more effective utilization of capital, human and natural resources. It consequently leads to higher productivity and results in expanded prosperity for the people in the country. Technology is now increasingly perceived as a vital strategic resource in the intensifying competitive battle of controlling world markets.
Asia and Pacific region needs technology to consolidate the process of industrialization; indeed its areas of natural advantages will be of limited value if they are not matched by technological competence which can grant it a competitive advantage Asia and Pacific region wishes to take its place as a competitor in the international marketplace. While steps are being taken by the Government to accelerate the pace of research and development in the field of science and technology, it is being increasingly realized that the country cannot write off the lag of centuries without recourse to transfer of technology.
The changes taking place in the international environment require urgent attention by policy makers in Asia and Pacific region. For example collapse of most of the centrally controlled economies, consolidation process in the Europe, unification of Germany etc. are going to have far reaching effects on the global technological flows and accessibility of technology and finances to developing countries like Asia and Pacific region. On the other hand, the rate of technological change has accelerated very rapidly over the last 2-3 decades -product cycles have shortened markedly. Advances are taking place not only in the so-called high-tech fields of Electronics, Informatics, Communicates, Biogenetic, materials science. Optics etc., the mature industries - for example, Steel, Textile, autos, Petrochemicals, food Processing etc., are also undergoing a period of radical technological transformation as new manufacturing techniques alter the economic trade offs between scale, product diversification, quality and cost etc.
Technological change is causing structural changes in societal patterns. The outcome of the industrial age was the invention of the 'power machines' such as the steam engines, which supplemented human muscle power. The invention of the computer has provided man with a new type of machine the 'Control and intelligence machine' which has extended manifold human brain power. A new post-industrial civilization is in the throes of creation - an age of micro-electronics, micro-processors and computers, of bio-technology and genetic engineering and of access to new sources of power and wealth in the space and the oceans. Societies which fail to acquire the emerging technologies are doomed to a deprived and dependent existence.
Of all the major recent technological advances, those that appear to be the most far-reaching are in biotechnology, materials and microelectronics. Modern biotechnology has a large potential that is already being realized in pharmaceutical and medical applications and is just beginning to be exploited in agriculture. The development of this industry in developed market-economy countries is said to be connected with judicial decisions that have granted intellectual property rights to innovators over genetically engineered 'forms of life'. The enormous costs of biotechnological R&D are leading to a growing concentration of activities in this field in the hands of large pharmaceutical and chemical companies. What these two developments mean in terms of the generation and diffusion of innovations in this field and of their transfer to developing countries is a matter of concern for us. The need to amortize their investments in research has meant that biotechnological companies have been concentrating their efforts on applications tailored for the largest and most lucrative markets, primarily in developed market-economy countries. Genetic engineering is at present beyond our reach. Access during the 1990s will depend on the domestic availability of skilled scientific and technical personnel and on the ability to link up with external suppliers for the basic technology.
Modern industry in the developed market-economy countries has been undergoing a fundamental structural, technological and organizational transformation. Its key features are growing product diversity, and quantum leaps in productivity and increasing flexibility, stemming from the development and diffusion of a family of automation technologies, including flexible manufacturing techniques and new products deriving from microelectronics-based control and communications systems. Spread of these technologies may cause developing countries to lose their attractiveness as low-labour-cost locations for production. Computer-aided design and manufacturing and increasing the knowledge content and reducing the labour content of industries producing such goods as wearing apparel, consumer electronics and automobiles. Secondly, just-in-time delivery systems are said to be working against the location of components and parts manufacturing on sites distant from assembly operations in the developed country markets. Thirdly, flexible manufacturing systems within firms and a range of inter firm links in design and production are reducing the importance of low-cost labour. The reason is the greater relative importance attributed to non-price marketing considerations associated with emphasis on quality and shifts in demand.' The impact of these tendencies ought to be an erosion of the global comparative advantage of developing countries, leading to a shift of production location to the north. Another line of reasoning is that companies in developing countries have themselves taken advantage of the new equipment, thereby retaining their cost advantage, albeit at a lower level. In support of this interpretation is the dramatic surge of capital goods imports of Asian developing countries during the 1980s.
There is a strong possibility that the more technologically advanced developing countries will pull ahead of other developing countries whose education and skill levels are not adequate for the transformation. For us this disadvantage would add to the other constraints that we already face in attracting foreign and domestic investment in new plants and equipment. This situation is very alarming for us because we possess a weak technological base. To cope with the situation, there is an urgent need to build a significant technological and industrial capability in partnership with technologically developed countries with an open door policy for promoting international transfer of technology.
The TVE policy developers and strategic planners of late 1990s should keep in mind issues arising of globalization of economy which, interalia, include
* Issues of world class manufacturing, just-in-time and inventory systems.
* Issues arising from rapid technological changes.
* Issues of high technology.
* Issues of traditional and transitional technologies.
* Issues of Quality management in Industry and Education together.
* Issues of Education-Industry linkages.
* Issues of Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection.
* Issues of Institutional management and leadership.
* Issues of un-employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship development.
* Issues of gender
* Issues of Special People.
* Issues of life-long learning.