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Salim Akoojee: We Need to Envision the Vocational Sector and Technical Training Differently

Changing Artisanal Identity and StatusSalim Akoojee – co-author of Changing Artisanal Identity and Status: The Unfolding South African Story – recently wrote an article for NORRAG, calling for a new way to look at vocational training in South Africa.

In the article, Akoojee considers the current challenges with respect to vocational skills. He suggests there are two main causes for shortfalls in technical and vocational skills:

The sector has not stayed in step with “changing economic realities” and the fact that this type of training is not regarded as highly as university education.

Read the article:

An August 2014 article in the Economist referred to the vocational sector as being the ‘detritus of an industrial era rather than the handmaiden of a new economy’. Citing the ‘twin curses of low status and limited innovation’, the Economist cites the McKinsey report in which students in four out of seven European countries surveyed were discouraged from vocational education as a result of the ‘disorganisation’ and ‘lack of prestige’ of the sector compared to universities. If we were honest, we have to admit that this is indeed the case in a number of emerging economies as well. Indeed, poor vocational education enrolment is compounded by even more serious disengagement from the world of work. While we could contest the wisdom of blaming the sector for this lack of engagement with the wider economy and its disorganisation and decay, there is perhaps a need to identify where this comes from and perhaps more importantly, why and how it can change so that the sector can take its rightful place as a legitimate sub-sector of the national education and training systems.

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