Skilling the Pacific: Technical and Vocational Education and Training in the Pacific

Date: September 2008
Type: Reports
Country:
Subject:
Series: Pacific Studies

Description

Development of skills is an area of concern highlighted repeatedly by Pacific ministers of education. Leaders of the Pacific region are worried about the implications of burgeoning youth populations and lack of opportunities to earn livelihoods in many countries. Developing skills is a key element both for private sector development and for creating more income-earning opportunities for the poor, the latter of which is one central focus of the overall Pacific strategy of the Asian Development Bank. However, the international knowledge base in this area is much weaker than that for basic education.

In April 2004, the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum endorsed in the Auckland Declaration the development of a Pacific plan for “deeper and broader” regional cooperation.The wide-ranging plan, which Pacific governments subsequently adopted in 2005, sets out four core areas: economic growth, sustainable development, good governance, and security. It emphasizes the importance of strengthening vocational and technical training and its links with the labor market. It also reinforces the earlier (2001) Forum Basic Education Action Plan in which the education ministers covered a broad range of areas in formal and informal education, including skills development. The Pacific plan has a specific mandate to investigate the potential for expanding regional technical and vocational education and training programs. This study, Skilling the Pacific, has answered this mandate. The study was designed to analyze issues of supply and demand for vocational skills, develop responsive and effective country and regional strategies for skills development, and identify investments necessary to implement these strategies. Given this context and the importance of skills development, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat was pleased to be the executing agency for this major study.

All countries provide technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in one form or another. Yet it has been a neglected area in terms of research, especially in the Pacific. This study helps fill that gap. It shows issues that need to be addressed of relevance, quality, equity, and organizational effectiveness in providing TVET.

All 13 countries covered by this study have skills shortages in different areas. Employers have noted that the skills gap is a huge constraint to the development of the private sector in the region.

TVET has significant political appeal and it is often regarded as something that will solve all youth and unemployment problems. It is clearly not that miracle solution, but it can offer opportunities for earning either a livelihood in the formal—or more important—informal sector of the Pacific economies. TVET is costly, so it is vital that it be delivered in a cost-effective manner that ensures the best possible outcomes.

This study has highlighted many good practices from around the region, which provide excellent case studies. Clearly, policy makers and others need to learn from each other what works and what does not in the Pacific context. It is crucial to avoid repeating the same costly mistakes.

This study does not provide a single model that will suit all countries, but it does provide a set of constructive strategies and recommendations for reform that, if acted on, could lead to significant improvements. We sincerely hope that the recommendations for projects, which could lead to the development partners providing support for TVET, would be implemented.

Contents

  • Preface
  • Highlights
  • Chapter Summary
  • Introduction
  • Socioeconomic Background: Country Typologies 
  • Skills Gaps in the Pacific 
  • Landscape and Architecture of Technical and Vocational Education and Training in the Pacific 
  • Analysis of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Systems in the Pacific 
  • Priorities and Strategic Options 
  • Conclusions and Recommendations from the Analysis 
  • Regional Technical and Vocational Education and Training Project Proposals 
  • Appendixes 
  • Bibliography