Parents of school age children usually hate TVET, unless they are German, Swiss or Austrian. In those countries, high level skills have high level status but for the rest of the world they’re seen as a broken dream by parents who want lawyers, engineers, doctors and space pilots.
So, how do you attract students and their parents into skills development when all the cards are stacked against you.
Don’t try to change the whole culture that looks down its nose at skilled workers. What we know is that two years out of university or out of high school with no real skills, TVET become Cinderella and the starts begin to sparkle.
The longer unskilled graduates are away from their parents, the sooner reality strikes that the marketplace has passed the outdated visions of yesterday and the new reality is skills, skills, skills.
Try these strategies:
- Target university graduates and secondary school graduates two years after finishing school and working in bottom-end gig-jobs. They are ready to hear the message.
- Target bachelor’s degree graduates who think a Masters will improve their employability. Do not laugh at them. Find them a skills course that leads to real work.
- If you’re in a developing country, target the poor. They probably dropped out of school early for lack of money and now think they can get back into a skills training environment. Offer them the surprise of their lives and they’ll even get their parents’ approval.
- Look to the workforce. People in dead-end jobs have two paths, get more skills or give up hope. Three hours a week can uncover a new future and if offered at a convenient time and place, the new skills will change their lives.
- Take the traditional skills packages and put the word “computer applications for”…in front of them. All the old skills are now raising uphill to catch up with robotics and the massive changes beginning in all manufacturing. Linking the words links traditional skills to modern technology and really makes them more attractive for the market place.
- Think of TVET students not as pre-pubescent youths but as customers looking for serious products. You have to go to your customers where they live and work or play and show them a new reality that is attractive and tested. Typically, they’re practical people and have never really thought about the product you’re presenting. Be honest, direct and answer their needs.
- Let your graduates and the industry that hire them tell the story. Academics flapping about the skills community are usually not credible.
- Talk to the employment or HR departments of as many local industries as you can reach. Have them pass out your brochures to all the unqualified applicants that come to them. It gives the industries an alternative to saying the applicants are doughnuts and may give the applicants a new strategy.
Industry is waking up to the need for a whole new level of skilled workers. If we in TVET can match their new demand with a credible supply, we’ll solve a great many economic, cultural, and personal problems.