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Experience from outside UNESCO-UNEVOC Regional Forum Europe and North America network enriches work of penultimate meeting ahead of next year's global forum in Bonn.
The three-day event, attended by over 100 experts in training, system analysis and policy advice, opened Monday with the spotlight on two of UNEVOC's priorities – youth employment and skills development and bringing an ecological perspective to TVET.
Tuesday's theme was regional and international harmonization in TVET.
Delegates looked well beyond the regional boundaries of Europe, CIS and North America, which is one of the five regional clusters around which UNEVOC organizes its global work. Representatives of the Africa, Arab States, Asia and Pacific, and Latin America and Caribbean regions presented the progress in advancing UNESCO-UNEVOC's agenda, based on the Shanghai Consensus proposals identified last year at UNESCO's Third International Congress on TVET.
Naji Al Madhi, of the National Institute for Vocational Education in the United Arab Emirates, used two short and highly effective videos to explore the challenges to improving and greening TVET in a swathe of countries experiencing the turmoil of the Arab Spring revolutions.
The region, home to 22 UNESCO Member States and 31 UNEVOC centres, has some of the highest youth unemployment (25%) and lowest labour market participation rates (35%) in the world. The potential of the 50-70 million young people due to enter the jobs market in the next few years was huge, Mr Al Mahdi said, but so far the economic response to the Arab Spring by regional governments had been simply "to raise public sector wages, mostly for the police and army, meaning that little money is going into production."
Janette Han, of the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training, said close attention to the demands and challenges of a very diverse region was necessary to begin a process of synthesizing analyses ahead of next year's UNEVOC global forum in Bonn.
The issues faced by the economies of Japan and Korea, dominated by ageing populations; the need for mass provision of TVET in heavily populated countries of Southern and South-eastern Asia, and the logistical complexities of creating inclusive policies and practices for the remote island states of the Pacific archipelago, all demanded a critical approach.
Simon Yalams Director of Jamaica's UTech/Centre for Research and Sustainable Development, pointed out the extent to which greening and youth employment agendas were converging in the Caribbean and South America. Brazil's National Youth Inclusion Programme already involved a million young people aged 15-29 and ecological considerations were increasingly part of the training approach of mining concerns in the region.
John Simiyu, University of Eldoret, Kenya, said African governments recognized the inter-relationship of greening TVET and boosting employment opportunities for young people, although poverty, weak infrastructure, food insecurity, and disease including HIV and AIDS, were all major challenges to that agenda.
Presentations from representatives of organizations working in complementary areas, including from Arjen Vos (European Training Foundation), Nicholas Sofroniou, (CEDEFOP, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training), Kirill Vasliyev (World Bank), Olga Oleynkova (IVETA, the International Vocational Education and Training Association), and Natalia Tokareva (UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education), added the focus of other international organizations working in TVET. Potentials for closer cooperation with UNESCO-UNEVOC and its Network were identified and discussed.
Shyamal Majumdar, Head of UNESCO-UNEVOC, urged network cluster coordinators to boil down proposals for future action plans to the most crucial elements ahead of next year's global forum.
Delegates spent the afternoon on study visits to Moscow colleges, including Commerce and Banking No. 6; Small Business No. 48; Hospitality and Management No. 23; Technological No. 28; and Automation and IT No. 20, where best practices – and rich and entertaining Russian cultural programmes, featuring singing and performances by students – were displayed. The schools also presented the efforts they are making in saving resources and preserving the environment.
The Moscow forum closed Wednesday (30 October) with UNEVOC Centre leaders discussing network consolidation and ways forward.
Photos: Students of College of Small Business No. 48.