Rethinking postsecondary, technical and vocational training for the 21st century

PATRICE PARRIS SEARLES, UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Abstract: For years, governments, administrators and policy makers emphasise the need to provide postsecondary youth who possess little or no educational qualifications, opportunities to gain marketable skills and occupational competencies. Skills development factors heavily into many country’s poverty reduction and development thrusts. In Trinidad and Tobago, a number of craft and technical/ vocational training programmes have as such, been established to facilitate the increased employability of these ‘at risk’ individuals. While there exists international research on a range of areas associated with Technical/Vocational Education and Training (TVET) among the educationally disadvantaged, few local research efforts have specifically evaluated the implications of the current TVET framework to the sustainable development of the country. This paper seeks to fill that informational gap. In particular, the paper assesses the degree of alignment between the design and objectives of one major postsecondary, technical/vocational training programme and the occupational needs of the country. Moreover, this paper reviews the overall effectiveness of this training initiative in terms of its stated objectives of achieving increased employability and marketability of its graduates. Ultimately the researcher points to possible deficiencies in the current arrangement of postsecondary,
technical vocational training and its servicing of the nation’s ‘at risk’ youth.
Keywords: technical; vocational training; youth employment; human capital development.

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