1.2.1 Working with (broken) WfD Institutions and Systems

Recognizing that donor and NGO-driven programs can only scratch the surface of the training requirements of youth worldwide, but faced with the widespread failure of national institutions and systems to prepare youth for the workplace, the group agreed that the greatest challenges exist in national workforce development institutions and systems. Reform of these systems also appears to have the greatest potential for achieving scale and transferring meaningful skills. Practitioners seek insights in several areas:

  • Defining national systems: The absence of well-defined systems in many countries, and non-recognition of key NGO actors, calls for rules and guidelines for understanding and defining the systems in a way that includes all relevant actors. UNESCO echoed this need in its 2012 Global Monitoring Report 1, noting that diffuse systems with multiple agencies and non-profit actors can create confusion for learners and planners alike, and result in “cracks” through which disadvantaged youth often fall.
  • Systems of quality assurance: A better understanding of effective accreditation and quality assurance models, and the relationship between those processes, is required. The group agreed that in many cases, accreditation does not guarantee quality or labor market relevance of programs, and may be stuck on ‘input’ and ‘output’ measures and be silent on employment and income outcomes. Alternate systems of quality assurance would be very useful. Practitioners also seek useful models in which the government has moved effectively from direct provision to a role that facilitates broad public, private, and non-profit participation in the sector. 
  • Stimulating institutional change: Recognizing that even in the best of circumstances many failing institutions will not be replaced immediately, practitioners sought methods for stimulating institutional change within higher education and TVET institutions, particularly with respect to capacity building for more effective teaching and working more effectively with employers. 

All of these efforts rest upon host-country government commitment to WfD, which is often lacking.  Improving incentives for governments to allocate and maintain adequate resources for WfD systems over the long term remains a major challenge. One promising direction might be tools for organizing private sector employer advocacy for enhanced WfD funding.

Research Spotlight: Successful TVET System Reform Efforts

Researcher Christian Kingome of the UK-based International Growth Center published a useful overview of recent system-wide reform efforts in “Lessons for Developing Countries from Experience with Technical and Vocational Education and Training” January, 2012.