Improving all aspects of the quality of vocational education is a prerequisite for attracting more Arab youth to vocational schools.
Ministers and parliamentarians from eight Arab countries agreed to give the highest priority to vocational training, when they met at the ETF’s Policy Leaders´ Forum in Marseille, France, on 6 October 2013.
Present at the Forum were senior officials from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.
All countries in the region face similar challenges: a growing young population, urgent needs for jobs and a vocational school system with a poor image.
The ETF Policy Leaders´ Forum provided a unique opportunity for the ministers of education and labour to share experience and discuss possible solutions with Pervence Berès, Chair of the European Parliament’s Employment Committee, and Androulla Vassiliou, EU Commissioner for Education and Culture.
‘Only if vocational training is of the same quality as university education, and if it can address the pressing needs of young people to gain access to the world of work, the image of VET can be improved,’ said Commissioner Vassiliou.
During a lively debate, the representatives of Arab countries focussed on the quality as the key factor for making vocational education and training attractive.
Several ministers pointed to the need for better governance. In many countries, legislation and policies in education are fragmented and the responsibility shared by different ministries, and the ministers see a big need for better cooperation and better coordination.
The role of teachers was also discussed. ETF analysis of the current education systems shows that vocational training is insufficiently attractive not only for employers and students, but also for teachers. Several speakers argued that teachers deserve a lot more attention and support in their efforts to improve vocational training. Motivated and engaged teachers are crucial to improving the image of the schools.
The credibility of vocational education, according to the participants, hangs on the level of graduates’ employability. Governments and schools must involve business, as well as social partners and civil society, to identify new job opportunities and to strengthen focus on entrepreneurial learning.
Commissioner Vassiliou encouraged structured partnerships to make a change. ‘Only through structured partnerships between training institutions, with businesses and social partners, and of course with policy support, it will possible to develop the quality of vocational education,’ she said.
In this context, all countries signed up to a close cooperation with the ETF on the new project on Governance for Employability in the Mediterranean region (GEMM), which will focus on enhancing the quality and relevance of vocational education and training systems in the region by helping to reinforce the capacities of stakeholders at national and sub-national levels.