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Building better formal TVET systems

Principles and practice in low- and middle-income countries

22.07.2023 by Content Admin

UNESCO, World Bank, ILO


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UNESCO (13 July 2023) - Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems in many low- and middle-income countries do not match skills and labour market needs and are unprepared to meet the large rise in demand for TVET in the coming years, according to a new joint study by the World Bank, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Launched ahead of World Youth Skills Day (15 July), the Building Better Formal TVET Systems: Principles and Practice in Low- and Middle-Income Countries report is the first rigorous global analysis of TVET challenges and reforms in developing economies.

In the context of rapidly changing labour markets and evolving skills needs due to globalization, technological progress, demographic transformation, and climate change, the need for well-performing TVET is even greater to ensure smooth job transitions. This is especially critical as global youth unemployment stands at 16 percent in 2022, much higher than the overall unemployment rate. These averages mask large disparities across countries, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

However, despite its high potential, training often falls short of expectations in low- and middle-income countries, says the report. This is largely due to difficulties facing learners, unsupported teachers, and weak incentives for training providers.

“Youth unemployment is one of the biggest challenges of our times, and one that demands our unwavering attention, collective resolve, and full dedication to inclusive and accessible lifelong learning and upskilling opportunities,” said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education. “Through TVET we can equip the youth with the skills and knowledge they need not only to excel in today’s job markets, but also to thrive in a rapidly changing world.”

“Many countries are experiencing a fast-growing youth population. At the same time, almost one quarter of youth are not in education, employment, or training worldwide; and among young women, this rate rises to almost one-third,” said Mamta Murthi, World Bank Vice President for Human Development. “Good TVET systems will help countries invest in skills and jobs for young people and benefit from the demographic dividend. They also help people navigate the climate, demographic, and technological changes that are already happening.”  

“We are witnessing an unprecedented deepening of inequalities within and between countries, a rise in working poverty, significant challenges for youth employment, and a risk of informalization of the formal economy,” said Mia Seppo, Assistant Director-General for Jobs and Social Protection at the ILO. “Effective skills and lifelong learning systems are crucial components for tackling these challenges and advancing social justice. They also empower individuals to aspire to better jobs, better pay, and better lives. Therefore, they are key enablers of human development and decent work for all.”

Access, equity, quality, and relevance

The report finds that many factors affect the performance of TVET, such as access, equity, quality, and relevance. Many institutions focus on what they know how to provide, which is often technical skills, but not what students or firms need, such as cognitive, digital, or entrepreneurship skills. 

The report emphasizes that when TVET functions well, its graduates not only have the right skills for today’s jobs, they are also prepared to adapt in the future as skills needs change. Strong TVET systems can help countries meet the Sustainable Development Goals by sustainably and efficiently supporting employment and productivity.