In the report “Skills Beyond School” OECD write that school and university, and the well-trod path between them, play a dominant role in thinking about education policy. But outside these two institutions there exists a less well understood world of colleges, diplomas, certificates and professional examinations – the world of post-secondary vocational education and training. Many professional and technical jobs require no more than one or two years of career preparation beyond upper secondary level, and in some countries as much as one-quarter of the adult workforce have this type of qualification. (see figure under). Nearly two-thirds of overall employment growth in the European Union is forecast to be in the “technicians and associate professionals” category – the category most closely linked to this sector (CEDEFOP, 2012). A recent US projection is that nearly one-third of job vacancies by 2018 will require some post-secondary qualification but less than a four-year degree (Carnevale, Smith and Strohl, 2010). The aim of the OECD study is to cast light on this world, as it is large, dynamic, and of key importance to country skill systems.
Some countries are educating more young people in the technical and vocational schools than in the Universities. An example of this is Austria where more than 80 percent of the students participate in an initial vocational training programme. This proves the attractiveness of VET schools and colleges as well as apprenticeship training in Austria (Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Austria. Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture).
South Asia has a large and young population. In a report forecasting the needs in the countries, they write that TVET is the biggest benefit to the biggest number of people. In particular though, the biggest benefit of the TVET system is in its ability to produce well-rounded graduates: the mixture of course work and on-the-job training enables students to develop both the soft skills and technical skills they need for the workplace. This ability to produce employable graduates for growth sectors such as construction, hospitality, tourism and manufacturing is being recognised by the region’s governments with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all making moves to reinvigorate their systems. (Skills needed: Addressing South Asia’s deficit of technical and soft skills Analysing the gap in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).