Report: What’s wrong with vocational ed?

A new OECD report suggests that while post-secondary vocational programs are growing worldwide, changes need to be made to bring out their fullest potential

report-vocational-educationVocational ed programs need better qualifications, need to include work place experience and need a better overall definition.

These characteristics, explains a new report, are just some of the revamps needed to update vocational education’s image–an image in desperate need of a 21st-century makeover.

The report, published by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, estimates that while one third of all job vacancies will call for some degree of post-secondary qualifications by 2018 in the United States, traditional four-year degrees will not necessarily be required; leading to a boom in vocational ed.

The problem is, vocational ed worldwide still needs work in order to provide students with the right workplace skills for today’s job market.

This is just one of many interesting findings presented in OECD’s recently released Skills Beyond Schools: Synthesis Report, which analyzes international post-secondary vocational education trends.

The study is a follow up to 2013’s A Skills Beyond School Review of the United States, and affirms the growing importance of competency-based education (CBE) programs, which offer alternative pathways for students with existing experience, difficulty meeting rising tuition costs, or interest in jobs within fast-growing sectors such as healthcare technicians and junior managers.

Featuring interviews with policy makers, employers, teachers, students, and education experts from 22 actively participating countries including the U.S., the report largely found that these vocational education programs are in need of better skill instruction; specifically in teaching the higher level skills needed to fill jobs that are becoming readily available in growing markets.

Beyond simply identifying issues in post-secondary vocational education, though, the study also offers a host of suggestions for overall improvement.

(Next Page: The OECD’s ideas for enhancing vocational programs worldwide)

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