The essentiality of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to the sustainable development, growth and advancement of nations has become more widely recognized around the world over recent decades. Over the past years, the G20, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and several government entities have come to a conclusion that TVET has a positive impact on harnessing the youth dividend, as well as economic upliftment, poverty alleviation and improving employability, particularly for out of school youth and adults. In turn, the value of TVET as a mechanism for providing the skills and knowledge that employers want and need has been amplified.
Analyze any blueprint for the economic and social development of a country, and you will find education and training at its center – and if you do not, then a vital piece of the developmental jigsaw is missing. TVET helps in equipping individuals with relevant skills and knowledge, hence enabling people to effectively participate in social, economic and technological innovation processes, which is essential for the development of any social structure.
Whether the learning experiences that TVET provides focus on preparing young people to enter the world of work with market-ready skills and mindsets, on training employees to expand their skillset while they are in work, or on opening new avenues into employment for those out of work, it is a tool for enhancing ability, unlocking potential and opportunity, and strengthening the economic and social fabric of countries who embrace and deploy it. Yes, it is about equipping people with the skills to succeed. But its true benefit and impact is about the collective rather than the individual.
Although TVET’s popularity is increasingly growing, misconceptions about it remain even in our region. There is still an unfortunate tendency to see TVET as having less relevance and gravitas than higher education; to question its capacity to provide skills development, upskilling, and reskilling even when global evidence shows that unemployment – particularly youth unemployment – is high in countries and regions without a strong TVET ecosystem. According to UNESCO, over the next decade approximately 475 million jobs need to be created to absorb the 73 million youth currently unemployed worldwide. Despite its clear role in reinforcing economies and societies, the big picture regarding TVET is still overlooked far too often.
To subscribe to such misconceptions is to fail to realize that TVET is intrinsic to sustainable development, and not just personal development. As well as opening up new horizons for young people, the unemployed, the dedicated and the ambitious; it reinforces the economic and social substructure of nations. It deepens pools of talent. It aligns skills with market demand, and with national agendas and priorities. It underpins the role of education in an ever-changing, more globalized world. And it brings equality, inclusion, hope and the transformation of lives.
Due to the important role it plays in sustainable development, TVET is now a key component in our programmatic interventions. Dubai Cares is currently playing an essential role in promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which among other focus areas, focuses on TVET for youth. This focus is expected to help equip young people with relevant skills and knowledge needed in order to effectively participate in social and economic life, which is essential for the development of any social structure.
Through the initiatives, and through the principles that guide our work, Dubai Cares is a staunch and enduring supporter of TVET. We are not alone in this. But for all the global recognition of TVET’s importance, of the skills it unlocks and the benefits it creates, it faces challenges – delivering on its potential, maintaining its relevance, shifting and even shattering perceptions and misconceptions, adapting to change. Challenges of this nature can only be surmounted through cross-sectoral collaboration, both in general terms and in relation to how it can pave the way for youth to enter a new dimension in their lives.
Such collaboration can catalyze a transformation of TVET. A transformation that ensures the access to learning, knowledge, and insight that it offers is available to all, with no boundaries and no differentiation based on race, gender, disability or social position. A transformation that nurtures and empowers citizens who are knowledgeable, aware, engaged and dedicated to playing their part in building sustainable, progressive societies; a transformation that recognizes that nobody should, and nobody can, be excluded from the opportunity to enhance themselves, to broaden their mind and their skillset, to enter the job market, to succeed and contribute; a transformation that focuses on outcomes, but is built on equality and inclusivity.
This will only multiply the value of investing in TVET – an investment in people, the greatest human resource on our planet, at a time in their lives when their personal potential, and their potential to play a part in shaping the future, is at its highest. This resource stems from all corners of the world, and the benefit it generates is magnified when we ensure it can flow from each of them.
Transforming and advancing TVET and ensuring its longevity, adaptability, and relevance in the name of sustainable development, is in dire need of the support of governments and organizations in the region and the world at large. Beyond the increased level of youth unemployment, challenges in overall health, environment, industry innovation, and infrastructure will have the potential to flourish through the grassroots.
The youth is the future and hope of any nation. They are talented and innovative - they are the symbol of strength and persistence. All youth must be redirected to reach greater heights to thrive in their lives. We need to work hand-in-hand to empower them, enhance their skills, and pave the way for them to become leaders and positive contributors to their communities. A nation that fails to invest in the future of its young people is a doomed nation.