On December 13, the CAREC Institute, in collaboration with the ADB Resident Mission in the PRC, co-hosted a final workshop on sharing ADB’s operational knowledge in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the PRC with other CAREC member countries.
Mr. Kabir Jurazoda, Director of the CAREC Institute, welcomed the participants of the workshop and noted that the post-pandemic economic recovery requires more skilled professionals in fields, where TVET plays an instrumental role. Governments have high expectations of TVET for employment, economic recovery, and social security. But the TVET sector is less developed in CAREC member countries. The former Soviet countries of the region face many challenges in transforming the TVET system in line with the needs of their labor markets. The challenges range from mismatches between the skills of TVET graduates and the skills of workers required by employers to inadequate human and financial resources in the TVET system.
ADB consultants Dr. Min Tang and Dr. Liu Yufeng presented the results from the ADB Technical Assistance report “People’s Republic of China: Sharing ADB’s Operational Knowledge in Technical and Vocational Education and Training in the PRC with CAREC Member Countries”. The report shares the operational knowledge and policy lessons on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) that ADB and other development partners have accumulated and learned in the PRC with other CAREC member countries. According to report’s findings six CAREC countries have made great efforts in vigorously developing TVET and have achieved remarkable progress in the past decade. However, three noteworthy challenges remain: a) mismatches between curricula in TVET programs and the skills required by employers; b) lack or absence of a national qualification framework; and c) inadequate human and financial resources. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are facing TVET problems and challenges such as the supply of TVET does not match the demand of the labor market, high unemployment rates of TVET graduates, insufficient digital skills, inadequate teachers’ ability, etc. The Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan face more severe problems and challenges, including an inadequate number of TVET schools, lack of TVET teachers, insufficient job opportunities for TVET graduates, etc. The PRC had similar problems in the development of TVET during its transition period. Since opening-up reforms, Chinese economy has generated strong demands for professional and skilled labor. The PRC has made great progress in many fields of TVET in recent years with the long-term unremitting efforts from governments and vocational schools. The assistance from ADB, the World Bank, and several bilateral aid agencies has also contributed greatly to the development of the PRC’s TVET sector.
National experts from CAREC member countries were invited to discuss the features and experience of TVET development in the PRC and potential replicability in their countries. They spoke about the new requirements that the socioeconomic development of the region imposes on the development of national TVET systems, the current TVET policies, and also made suggestions on how to apply the experience of TVET development in China for the region. Dr. Ilhom Abdulloev, Specialist on Specialist on Research and Knowledge Connectivity of the CAREC Institute, spoke about the relationship between the labor emigration and the TVET in the three countries of Central Asia which face excessive labor resources — the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Migration from these countries is predominantly low-skilled and without professional education. Given the inability of these countries’ economies to provide jobs for their growing young population in the near future, labor migration will remain as a key employment option for many young people. Therefore TVET institutions should attract and train future migrants. With certified professional skills received from TVET institutions at home, future migrants are more likely to find higher paying jobs in destination countries. TVET institutions may consider expanding their collaboration beyond national borders by collaborating with enterprises in destination countries. Such international cooperation is important because the existing national enterprises are either small or do not have sufficient resources to cooperate with TVET schools. TVET institutions can also provide predeparture orientation for future migrants through courses on preparation for work. The TVET curriculum can be developed in collaboration with national and foreign enterprises, migrant groups, overseas migrant diasporas and NGOs. In addition, the countries of the region can jointly establish the regional qualification framework which will reflect the occupational standards not only required in home countries but also in the region and promote the recognition of skills of migrant workers in the destination countries and the establishment of the skills validation systems necessary to certify migrants’ skills earned abroad.
Ms. Xin Lei, Head of Knowledge Management, CAREC Institute, shared her views on the challenges and needs of the TVET in CAREC member countries and highlighted the main areas of potential cooperation between the PRC and CAREC member countries. She noted that the report provided an in-depth analysis of the existing problems of TVET systems in CAREC countries, such as the mismatch between the skills provided by national TVET systems and actual labor market needs, insufficient resources and low enrollment numbers, which is related to the low quality of education in TVET institutions due to difficulties in attracting qualified teachers. There are weak sectoral planning and labor market information systems. Key areas of regional cooperation should include TVET policy development, curriculum harmonization, student and staff exchanges, and increased industry participation in TVET and resource sharing. Recognition of skills standards will increase labor mobility in the region. The CAREC Institute is already contributing to the development of a practical road safety curriculum for technical universities and is conducting a multi-session training series on cross-border e-commerce. The CAREC Institute can help build a broad network of CAREC educational institutions and the private sector to apply global best practices at the regional level, to generate new and innovative ideas through research collaboration, capacity building, and knowledge sharing. At a high level, capacity building activities are needed to improve the capacity of workforce development strategies, increase the efficiency of public funding, promote effective workforce planning and transparent accreditation and certification, and monitor the quality of education in TVET. A cross-country knowledge platform such as the CAREC Institute can play the role of a knowledge broker in conducting capacity building activities for policy makers and sharing best practices in our region.
Dr. Jingjing Huang, Deputy Director One of the CAREC Institute, concluded the workshop by emphasizing that the findings and recommendations of the report contribute to the Human Development cluster of the CAREC Program which covers education and health. She noted that existing challenges in the TVET system of CAREC countries represent a potential risk that the region may fall behind the global skills development trend. The region needs to improve its skills standards to become more competitive, increase foreign direct investment and people-to-people connections. The CAREC Institute is mandated to be a knowledge hub for qualitative research and capacity building. “The CAREC Institute will continue to work with our member countries and development partners on this important topic,” said Dr. Jingjing Huang.