Vocational training: Taking advantage of the paradigm shift

تدريب مهني
Two young men train in woodworking at the Vocational Training Corporation (Photo: Jordan News)
The government is reportedly drafting a plan for post-COVID recovery and hushing up its content so far. True or not, the country naturally needs one and, in all cases, the government should not leave vocational and technical education behind.اضافة اعلان

But this time, we need a different approach. The labor landscape has changed and a profound paradigm shift has taken place at different levels.

Fact number one, according to a study by Jordan Labor Watch, is that 48 percent of youth between 19 and 24 years of age, who are not enrolled in higher education, are unemployed (and those who are in higher education have a dim chance to find a job). The report also found that the Jordanian economy lost almost 140,000 jobs in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “culture of shame,” is dead and buried. No one will now buy it as an excuse for the failure to steer the young generation to take the vocational and technical training path. Look around and you’ll see that thousands of Jordanian youth are in the delivery industry, and many are grateful they have a job and that they can put food on the table for their families. We are in a text-book case of a challenge turned into an opportunity, and that is encouraging.

Another encouraging fact is that we have in place an umbrella body for vocational education, namely the Technical and Vocational Skills Development Commission, supported by the Technical and Vocational Skills Development Council. These partners have not been tested yet because they are relatively new, but both have the potential to boost the execution of the relevant national strategy that has remained ink on paper.

Again, things have to be done differently, this time, so that we do not miss the chance. We need first to identify the sectors with the highest potential for recovery and identify their labor needs, and whether this labor needs specific skills or upskilling. This should not be a tough task because the private sector, i.e., the employer, is represented on the council and, in an ideal scenario, is involved in planning and decision-making from A to Z.

Sound planning also requires officials in charge of this file to foresee industries’ future needs, taking into consideration that some sectors are expected to boom and others to slow down or completely die. Furthermore, the country and the region are likely to see mega projects in the fields of railways, renewable energy, construction, and others. We need to prepare young Jordanians to man these projects with the skills and the know-how.

A tip to officials: Before you design a training program, just ask the employers what exactly they need, and keep your eyes open for any opportunities. You can also look to the successful experiences of other countries, to see how they have done it.

And a warning: An army of unemployed, frustrated youth spells doom. We cannot afford failure.

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