THE reform of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in developing countries will help address barriers hindering employment and productivity, the World Bank said.

“The current moment is ideal for reform, and it offers numerous opportunities to leapfrog barriers to progress. Technology — if accompanied by complementary investments — has the potential to transform TVET in low- and middle-income countries,” it said in a report issued jointly with the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

“In many countries, TVET systems underperform in terms of their potential contribution to employment and productivity due to challenged learners, unsupported teachers, and inadequate incentives,” it added.

The World Bank cited the need to strengthen basic education, by providing accelerated remedial support for learners, among other methods.

“Foundational skills are important per se because employers seek them, but they are also needed for further learning and for adaptability. Enrolling in TVET students who are not ready or who do not have an aptitude for technical and vocational education can waste the resources of both the learner and the system,” it said.

“Making TVET more accessible and equitable will continue to be a priority for TVET systems given demographic trends and expected continued progress in secondary school enrollment and completion in lower- and middle-income countries,” it added.

Other barriers to access to TVET must also be addressed, especially for disadvantaged groups, it said.

Governments must improve the affordability of TVET programs via subsidies, scholarships and financing for vulnerable youths, the World Bank said.

“Early warning systems that build capacity among institution leaders and teachers on how to support students at risk of dropping out or not learning, identify these students, and support them with targeted interventions are in widespread use in high income countries,” it added.

The World Bank report also showed that public TVET institutions still rely mainly on government funding, including those in the Philippines.

“In the Philippines, public TVET providers receive almost 95% of their funding from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); private providers receive 4-6% of their resources from TESDA but rely mostly on student fees,” it added. 

Other gaps that must be addressed include information constraints and gender inclusivity.

In the Philippines, graduates of post-secondary TVET programs are more likely to be employed and have significantly higher wages than those who complete secondary education or lower. 

“In the next two decades, demographic trends, coupled with higher completion rates at lower levels of education, are likely to cause an exponential increase in the number of TVET students,” it added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson