Technical and vocational education (TVE) | The what, the how much, the when & the who

Here are some statements extracted from a World Bank report by Arvil V. Adams entitled The Role of Youth Skills Development in the Transition to Work: A Global Review (2007) on commonly asked questions. A kind of reminder.

Does TVE payoff?

  • TVE does payoff under the right conditions.
  • Evidence shows that TVE is more effective when focused on skills closely matched with existing employment opportunities.
  • Building strong links between schools and employers is important to improving the relevance of TVE to employment.

When to introduce vocational content

  • Benefit-cost comparisons of TVE as part of general education are more favorable where vocational content is deferred to later in the education cycle.
  • Pre-vocational courses offered in lower secondary schools show limited benefit in terms of future employment or earnings.
  • Offering vocational content earlier in schooling might however be supported on social grounds where it is shown to lead to higher retention and educational attainment.
  • Higher economic returns are being observed at the post-secondary level for TVE.
  • Globally, TVE enrollments today are clustered in upper secondary education, and in advanced countries vocational content is shifting rapidly to the first two years of tertiary education.
  • This provides opportunities for expanding choices at a later time when students are better equipped with information to make career-related decisions.
  • Efforts are made to improve TVE social status and erase its image as a “dead-end” track for education.
  • These efforts include improving articulation with further education, introducing curricula that open dual tracks to employment and further education, and bringing education and the world of work closer together.

How much vocational content?

  • TVE is unlikely to help youths enter employment where the curriculum contains only a small fraction—typically less that one-fifth—of vocational content.
  • More success is achieved with full-time TVE where the goal is to improve chances for employment.
  • A stronger case may be made for vocationalizing the curriculum where the goal is to increase students’ interest in school and raise educational attainment.
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills are becoming a necessary form of vocationalization in secondary schools.

The value of apprenticeship and work experience

  • Not all skills required by youth for employment are going to be provided in institutional classroom settings.
  • Apprenticeships and early work experience form an important bridge between school and work for youths, offering skills in a different setting.
  • In comparison with school-based alternatives, evidence favors the positive impact of apprenticeship on employment for young men, though less so for young women.
  • When compared with labor market programs, the benefits of apprenticeship are found to be even greater.

Recognizing what enterprises will do and not do

  • Training provision and financing by employers is frequently overlooked in favor of public investments in TVE and Training (TVET).
  • Employers, however, are an active source of provision and financing in the second “T” in TVET.
  • Evidence shows that this training culminates in higher productivity for the enterprise, and higher wages for workers.
  • It is self-regulating and self-financing.
  • Employers are found to invest in general skills alongside skills specific to the enterprise.
  • Enterprise training is selective, with workers in small and medium sized enterprises and those with lower levels of formal education having less access to the training.

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