Public sector institutions rarely have marketing plans.
As they are essentially supply driven, they do not feel the need to respond to the market for their goods and services in the same way as private sector organizations.
However, as public (government) institutions are pressured to secure funding beyond government grants, their desire to understand their markets and to develop strategies to promote their services to these markets grows rapidly.
In TVET, most governments have accepted that the equipment and training costs of an effective TVET system are beyond the resources of tax revenue.
Most choose to give institutions more freedom to act in the market for training; that is, to generate income within policy guidelines established by government. Partnerships with Industry are also gaining popularity.
Institutions need to develop ways to sustain themselves. This means they need to generate revenue.
The revenue may be used to maintain and extend the buildings, enhance staff salaries, provide scholarships to students, procure equipment, develop new programs based on community and industry needs and expand the marketing program.
Objectives of the marketing plan:
1. To effectively reach out to target private groups particularly prospective students and their parents
2. To enhance public acceptance of TVET as a viable option not just for students who can’t make it to academic education
3. To actively involve the industry as a core partner in technical education to make course offerings more relevant to the skills demands of the labour market
4. To generate revenue to maintain and extend facilities, offer incentives to teachers and sustain the institution.
The Market for TVET
- Industry Employers. Industry should benefit from skilled TVET graduates. Industry also benefits from the upgrading of its own employees who learn new technologies both to expand the range or value of products manufactured and to improve productivity. It is industry’s interest to support TVET and in many countries, Industry is a significant source of both training support and revenue.
- Parents/Communities. The most important single factor in the recruitment of full time students is parental guidance. When parents understand the link between TVET, University degrees and employment, they can become supporters of schools which combine a high level of academic preparation with an introduction to technical and business skills. Local communities often are given tax revenue from central governments to spend on local priorities. When the link is understood between local TVET and attracting new industry to create employment, communities too become supporters of TVET.
- Part time Learners and Prospective Students. In some large cities, thousands of young people, often University graduates, return to school every week, enrolled in skills programs that promise to improve their job prospects. Youth from small communities in many developing countries migrate to the large cities because of the availability there of education and skills development on a part time basis. There are many Training institutions in these cities solely supported by fees income from part time students who work during the day and attend classes in the evening or weekends. Many Universities depend on these part time students in their “applied” programs to enhance the schools income so that it can improve the quality of education offered.
As a minimum, a basic marketing plan in TVET education will include:
- A very short Vision/Mission Statement for the school.
- An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the school and the areas where intervention is most needed.
- A multi-year plan (3years) to strengthen any key weaknesses. This must include the names of individuals responsible for this strengthening, a time table and a source of funds if required.
- A detailed plan on the development of employability skills in all graduates.
- An assessment of the market for skills development and for Grade 12 graduates with a higher level of science and technology education than graduates from senior secondary schools.
- A plan for school open houses to invite parents and lower secondary students.
- A priority assigned to each market.
- A definition of each segment of this market, an analysis of its specific needs and a plan for reaching the markets.
- The school needs to take one market and test out its capacity there first. After, it is easier to build on success.
- Each market is different. A brochure is not the right thing for all markets.
- A school advisory committee of area residents including the commune chiefs in the catchment area. No management authority so not competitive with the Foundation.
- A web site that invites questions and provides information to the community and possible students.
- A Twitter/Facebook/Social Media strategy linked to the school computer center so students can manage the system for promotion and for tracing graduates. Tomorrow’s students use social media for everything.
- A future fee structure based on real costs. 70% of student places are open to all students and 30% are open to fee paying students.
- Implementing a marketing plan can involve students and staff of an institution. If this is desired, these 2 groups need to be involved in the development of plan.
- A marketing plan has the additional advantage of pushing the academic community into an awareness of the society and economy outside of the Institution.