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2.2.4 National training systems: Contributory factors
While constant reference is made in the literature to 'vocational training systems', it is rarely made clear what exactly is meant by training system. A system is "a set of things considered as a connected whole". However, in most countries, the degree of connectedness between training institutions in different ministries is so minimal that it is difficult to conceive of a public vocational training system, let alone a system that embraces all institutions that, in one way or another, are concerned with the provision of training services. National training councils are typically weak (advisory) institutions and are usually preoccupied with public sector training provision for technical and commercial occupations in the formal sector. In many ways, therefore, the lack of effective national training systems is a key feature of the training crisis.
More often than not, the term 'training crisis' only refers to a particular segment of the training system, namely post-secondary training institutions that were originally established to meet the 'manpower needs' of 'modern industry and commerce' and are usually part of Ministries of Labour and/or Higher Education. As noted earlier, these training institutions have been widely criticised for failing to provide good quality, relevant and cost-effective pre-employment and job-related training.
The response of enterprises to inadequate public sector training provision has varied. The private sector in some countries has largely turned its back on the public training system and internalised the training function as much as possible. More generally, industries as a whole have tried to take greater control of the training process. The result is that sectoralisation of training provision with the creation of lead bodies, industry training boards etc. is a major trend world-wide. Once individual enterprises and industry organisations gain some measure of control over public training resources and are given the freedom to choose where to train, they are increasingly opting for private sector providers.
The loss of the traditional clienteles among public sector training institutions is bad enough. But, as discussed earlier, the training crisis is frequently compounded by the lack of interest and/or capacity of these institutions to re-orient their activities towards the poor.
While this particular group of VET institutions is struggling to survive in many countries, how true is this for training institutions in other parts of the 'training system'? It is necessary, therefore, to examine carefully the activities and resource commitments of all organisations that explicitly seek to promote skills development among the poor. Only then is it possible to reach any meaningful conclusions about the scope and efficacy of this training effort.
In nearly all developing countries, a significant proportion of the poor are smallholder farmers. And yet, the provision of training services, most notably agricultural extension, to these individuals is rarely considered in discussions of skills training. Similarly, much of the pre-employment training that is undertaken by the core tertiary VET institutions discussed above is for public sector occupations which provide social and economic services that should benefit the poor. Many of these personnel do not necessarily have an explicit training role as instructors, but the very provision of these services facilitates the development of certain skills. For example, road engineers involved in rural feeder road programmes not only impart skills to his/her technicians and other staff, but also to local contractors and the beneficiary communities themselves.
EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING
Learning to change: Skills
development among the
economically vulnerable and
socially excluded in
Employment and Training Department
International Labour Office Geneva
First published 1999
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References: Learning to change: Skills development among the economically vulnerable and socially excluded in developing countries
By International Labour Organization
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As the world's only tripartite multilateral agency, the ILO is dedicated to bringing decent work and livelihoods, job-related security and better living standards to the people of both poor and rich countries. It helps to attain those goals by promoting rights at work, encouraging opportunities for decent employment, enhancing social protection and strengthening dialogue on work-related issues. The ILO is the international meeting place for the world of work. We are the experts on work and employment and particularly on the critical role that these issues play in bringing about economic development and progress. At the heart of our mission is helping countries build the institutions that are the bulwarks of democracy and to help them become accountable to the people. The ILO formulates international labour standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations setting minimum standards of basic labour rights: freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labour, equality of opportunity and treatment and other standards addressing conditions across the entire spectrum of work-related issues.
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