Millions of out of school youth are currently unemployed or underemployed. This number increases per year for various reasons.
Some simply cannot follow an academic curriculum. Others do not have the interest in school work. For many, families do not have the money to support them in schools and they are expected to contribute to family revenue by helping with rice growing and animal care.
Perhaps, some find marginal jobs in the city in the hope of earning enough money to attend private training institutions to acquire language and computer skills for improved employment. But very few are able to do this.
In most countries, these school leavers find it difficult both socially and academically to re-enter. Typically, general education concentrates on those who are able to stay in school. Those who leave have, for all practical purposes completed their formal education and regardless of desire or intellect, are excluded from any further recognized learning. They certainly have lost any chance of higher education within the public education system.
TVET public system, meanwhile, is failing to attract students to its certificate and diploma programs. Qualified applicants for higher education do not choose technology first but try for places in academic universities.
Part of this, is the tradition of academic learning that predominates in many countries especially in Asia. Changing public attitude is a very long term process even if, in many countries, this extended process has already begun. So, if TVET is to play a role, it can really serve this increasing group of unemployed and underemployed youth.
For many of these school leavers, mastering the skills and knowledge required for entry into higher education is possible, if they can learn part time and work with their families. Some of these young people may be among the most gifted learners in the country and if given an opportunity they could become exceptional technicians and engineers.
In many countries now, the population is skewed towards the young that youth employment is now a major concern. Recent figures from ILO placed youth unemployment number at 73.4 million, a 3.5 million increase from 2007. ILO also emphasized that over 53% of young workers are in vulnerable employment.
How do we deal with this problem?
1. Training in the workplace
Employers used to train entry-level employees, allowing them to gain experience and climb the career ladder. Today, employers favour outside hires with ready-to-go experience. This change has hurt young job-seekers. It is best to reward employers who invest in on-the-job training with tax credits.
2. Youth employment services
Link skills training with employer and industry needs. Involve business at the local level in the design of employment and training programs. Businesses would commit to hiring graduates of training programs, and they would track outcomes in order to create a feedback loop to improve the program design. Strengthen the National Employment Agency with a youth services unit to do research and provide career counseling.
3. Developing entrepreneurship
Young entrepreneurs need coaching and networks to build job-creating businesses. Business leaders need to foster a culture of mentorship. Develop an Entrepreneurship Incubator in each college working with local successful business people and SMEs. Business mentoring is so crucial that ILO created, Know about Business, a training methodology for trainers and teachers to help young people become more entrepreneurial.
Current apprenticeship systems need fixing. There are still barriers to groups such as women. Though the number of young people entering apprenticeships has increased, too many never complete their training. Not enough employers view hiring an apprentice as an attractive investment. National incentives grants for apprentices go unclaimed.
To increase the number of apprenticeships, educators need to sell students on career and skills education more than they do. Some experts believe teachers don’t do this because working in the trades is outside their experience. Offer teachers and guidance counsellors short co-op placements in the trades so that they appreciate their value relative to college and university.
5. Career Education
Experience in the workplace is critical for students to make good choices about their careers. It also teaches the “soft skills” employers require. Make co-op education a mandatory credit in high school, to be phased in over a few years. Government needs a program to help educators and employers develop experiential and workplace learning.
There is no standard or certification for high school guidance counsellors working on career development with students. Few high school teachers know anything about private sector work or the needs of employers. To ensure quality, require some high school teachers to train and certify as career-development professionals.
Teenagers turn first to their parents for career advice. Parents need better information and more support from schools to help their offspring make good decisions. Ministers of education should set targets for schools to deliver career education to parents.
Career studies courses help teenagers consider their working future. Make career studies mandatory. Ensure the courses are taught by well-trained teachers.
Evidence suggests that career-counselling after high school helps young people hone their job search skills and find work more quickly. Make consultations with a career professional who can coach you.
Read this link on why a Career Coach is helpful:
7 Key Benefits of Finding a Career Coach
6. Colleges and universities to offer co-op education
Co-ops lead to better outcomes in the labour market because they give students work experience and help them develop their networks. Government can create financial incentives to colleges and universities that offer co-op education as part of the course requirements.
Countries that align colleges and vocational education with the needs of the labour market have lower youth unemployment rates. Ministries of education do track college graduates’ success in the labour market. Strengthen this process now. Enforce a stricter correspondence between the level of admissions and the labour market’s demand for graduates. If that means limiting admissions, so be it. University programs that are pathways to professions such as education and law must also move in this direction.
Graduates need to understand the transition from school to work and must learn to manage it:
10 Winning Attitudes for a Successful Career Kick-Start
7. Skills Bridging Program
In Cambodia, the Directorate of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, through assistance from the Asian Development Bank managed Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction has started a skills bridging program where school leavers (out of school for, at least, two years) go through a curriculum of Math, Science and Language to meet the requirements for entry into TVET certificate programs.
Over 3 years, about 700 graduated and of these, 63% enrolled in certificate programs while the others found better employment. Because the Provincial Training Centers in Cambodia go to the rural areas, this program is serving mostly the rural youth population.
8. National TVET system that promotes youth employment. There is a need to redirect the TVET system to better serve the needs of industry so graduates from the system can find better employment. The system must also promote programs in the rural areas to help the youth get into the career ladder system so they can avail of better employment opportunities.