Education and Industry Partnerships in TVET: 11 Effective steps

In some economies, Technical school managers and teachers are drawn from Industry and Business and have many continuing personal and professional links with the private sector. LinkedIn shows these networks.

But advise to TVET systems in emerging economies that are built on these easy links in countries with a long history of education/industry linkages are usually ill-founded and misguided. 

In the developing world, most “academics” are still not comfortable working with industry. I suppose if they wanted to be part of the economy in that sense, they would not have become teachers. 

What is clear, however, is that in today’s world, an effective TVET system cannot be built if there is a chasm between education and “ the world of work”. 

This very term, “world of work”, underlines the academic community’s dislike of the more direct…job market…the terminology used by all the other stakeholders. But it is a destructive euphemism that helps academics avoid the notion that they are training  people for employment and are part of economic, not social policy. 

As a frequent consequence, employers cannot be bothered with the arrogance and rigidity of the academe and would prefer not to have to do anything with them. Yet for the developing world, the future calls for partnership, for collaboration.

There is really only one successful way forward in TVET and that is the partnership of Institutions and Industry. There is a huge potential in this collaboration and the benefits cut both ways.

I observed the beginning of this collaboration when I first visited Canada in the 1980s and our team from the Philippines really wanted to start building the partnership model  in the Philippines. 

HR colleagues of mine in the industry sector were gungho and invited industry and education leaders to a discussion. It was a big success but nothing much happened after this initial step as there was no step by step plan developed for moving ahead.  Or maybe, it was an idea whose time has not come yet as the cultural gaps were substantial. 

Industry with young graduates

So where do we start? Here are 11 effective steps to take:

1. Invite successful TVET graduates to come and share with on-going students their own experiences in their work.

2. Find one or two really effective partnership  models in the country and get the lead TVET managers into them for a visit. 

3. Invite employers to speak to students at certain events and share what industry expects of graduates.

4. Arrange visits with industry so students get a peek at the world of work.

5. Organize on the job training for students in businesses. If possible, organize the same experience (at different times) for the teachers. 

6. Get feedback from employers on the strengths and weaknesses of graduates employed.

7. Ask employers for recommendations on competencies they need

8. Organize job fairs for students inviting employers to participate and talk with students.

9. Ask industry leaders to be part of the institution’s advisory councils 

10. Involve industry in creating performance standards and competency assessment of students

11. Engage private sector in collaborative projects which will benefit both industry and institution. Applied research is key to development and this is one area where collaboration can truly be productive. 

You can learn more about applied research done by Colleges and Institutes Canada on this site.

In July of 2013, I read in Philippine Daily Inquirer of the education summit organized by “Philippine Business for Education (PBEd)” to which were invited top administrators of universities and colleges as well as business executives and industry leaders.

Its objective was to link higher education with industry to solve the eternal problem of a mismatch between jobs in the market and the skills of graduates.

The time has come and hopefully, this time, there will be traction. If a step by step plan emerges, based on real examples of partnership already existing in the Philippines, there is a chance.

This is a key lesson learned…. find what is working now in the target country and build on it. 

Working at Algonquin College in Canada, I was really impressed with the links that institution  had with industry.

There were all kinds of programs and part time professors were mostly from industry. As I travelled, I found this was true of most colleges in Canada and that their graduates easily found employment as the skills learned were based on what employers wanted. 

When we started to work as consultants internationally, I found how little collaboration there was, (usually nill) between the TVET institutions and industry. 

Often, students were unable to find jobs and if they did, industry had to train them skills before they were effective. In some countries, employers refused to even consider hiring TVET grads as they had an enhanced view of their own  talents and value with no corresponding skills.

I think that success in this collaboration can only be achieved if industry takes the lead. They will make it happen faster if they become the champion for this closer collaboration.

The best academic institutions can do is encourage this by looking for champions in industry who would be committed to making this succeed.

Further suggested readings on Industry-Education partnerships:

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