|The Transition from Technical and Vocational Schools to Work: Problems, Current Efforts and Innovative Approaches and Measures for Improving the Transition - Trends and Issues in Technical and Vocational Education 2 (UNESCO, 1983, 100 p.)|
The current situation with regard to the transition from technical and vocational schools to work is complex. This report, intended for a broad international audience, is essentially a summary of problems faced by diverse nations as they attempt to deal in different ways with a common problem. Indeed, there are many common areas of experience in dealing with the transition topic. Similarly, there are numerous specialized areas of experience. The usefulness of the material and information contained herein may be found in the mixtures of common and specialized experiences shared by the reporting countries as they and other nations continue in their efforts to solve a universal problem. It is to be hoped that new opportunities for international co-operation will be found in that mixture. Several topics might lend themselves to joint and bilateral efforts between and among nations. For example, the areas of curriculum research and design and the establishment of international information systems might become viable multinational enterprises. The present report suggests sufficient commonality of need, purpose and extant data and practice for at least these two topics to become primary candidates for further discussion and, perhaps, joint ventures.
In addition to the more specific information, methodologies and activities reported on the topic of transition from school to work, an over-riding conclusion of this report is that technical and vocational education have continued to grow in strength, popularity and availability around the world. Such expansion suggests important progress in the shift of attitude to more positive consideration for education and training programmes leading to jobs which require less than an upper secondary level qualification for entry. A 1978 Unesco report on trends and issues in technical and vocational education states:
Approaches to both the philosophy and structure of education have changed radically in recent years, and the expansion and development of technical and vocational education is at the very core of this change. Real progress has been made in terms of basic legislation and adoption of policy indicating intent and the future direction of educational development.
The present report indicates that this progress has been continuous and, in some countries, profound.
Yet, with that progress, the growth and expansion of technical and vocational programmes have come up against problems and difficulties. Not the least of these is the matter of the transition from technical and vocations education programmes to the job site - an experience which is not easy for many young workers. As the student population enrolled in such programmes has grown, so has this particular problem.
The problem of transition is perhaps one of the most complex, and at times baffling, of any faced by educators today. Even in cases where there is low unemployment, many workers, especially those entering jobs for the first time, experience difficulty in adjusting to the work. The result is often high rates of worker turnover, or the acceptance of a job that requires lower skills than those already possessed by the trainee. Worse, the result may be that the new worker delays starting the first job, suffers loss of skill through lack of practice and becomes unemployable.
While the problem is far from simple and will require a wide array of solutions, it is possible to summarize the most commonly found elements which the majority of reporting countries indicate as most confounding and pressing. That receiving most attention is the matter of inadequate or insufficient guidance and counselling service. Next is pre-training and continued training for technical and vocational instructors and guidance and counselling personnel. Third is the problem of maintaining and improving relevant curriculum which is tied to the realities of the work-place. Insufficient co-ordination of planning and policy development represents a fourth major problem. Fifth is the problem of generating sufficient research into the problems of and related to transition and the closely related items of experimentation and information. Information could well be singled out as a specific problem were it not for the fact of its impact on each of the others and in particular on those having to do with guidance and counselling, planning and curriculum improvement. A sixth problem sector deals with the issue of creating closer ties with industry and business. Finally, the special problems of women, the handicapped, migrant workers and other special populations are crucial in the great majority of reporting countries.
These seven common problems are related and interlinked in important ways. In large measure, one cannot be solved in isolation from another. Solutions to one may provide direct - or oblique - solutions to one or more others. Again, the information problem seems to be a common thread woven among - but not necessarily helping to hold together - all of these problems.
Several innovative approaches and methods currently being utilized are reported upon in the country reports. These are not isolated examples of progress, but rather suggest that positive and direct actions are being taken for at least partial resolution of the many problems each country faces. Some nations are unable to make much progress, however, because they lack the research, information and planning systems necessary for co-ordinated and purposeful action. The promotion of international co-operation in these areas could result in effective benefits to these nations in particular, and to all nations in general.
In view of the Revised Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education, the initial summary of symposium discussions and the summaries of country reports provided in this report, it is clear that acting upon the following brief conclusions could contribute to international co-operation aimed at the mutual and bilateral solving of the central problem of the transition from technical and vocational schools to work - and to solving the myriad subproblems surrounding that central issue:
1. A thorough review of the current situation in guidance and counselling services for students of technical and vocational education would serve to clarify the basic problems of context, role, function and responsibility for this sector.
2. The pre-training and upgrading of teaching and counselling personnel should be promoted with a view to increasing the work-place and technical experiences of these personnel.
3. A study of the potential for establishing an international system of technical and vocational education information exchange should be undertaken.
4. The establishment of an international mechanism for exchanging and sharing technical and vocational curriculum materials, methods for curriculum construction and updating and means for securing business-industry review of such materials should be studied in depth.
5. An international survey of the most recent developments in creating new and stronger ties between education and business and industry, stressing innovations in work-place training (apprenticeship, co-operative work programmes) should be conducted. Resulting information should be synthesized and shared broadly with Member States (Since this topic is very timely with respect to present world-wide economic conditions and the increasing dependence of industry and business upon technical and vocational education programmes for a supply of well-trained workers, it is predictable that the results of the proposed survey could lead to an international symposium which would bring business and industry leaders together with leaders of technical and vocational education system.)
6. The needs of special populations of workers (especially women, the handicapped and migrant workers) should be kept in view as further actions are taken by countries and by international organizations in their continuing effort to improve the transition from technical and vocational schools to work.