The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States shares experiences with Europe in vocational technical education as an option to youth unemployment
The Caribbean region has made great socio-economic improvements in the last decade, but it also suffers from high unemployment, even among graduates.
Approximately 20 per cent of the population is between 15 and 29 years old. The average youth unemployment rate in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) region is 26 per cent and in some countries as high as 42 per cent. This is more than double the figure for the labour force as a whole, and almost three times higher than the rate for adults. Moreover, female youth unemployment is often significantly higher than that of their male counterparts (29% versus 24%) despite their generally better educational attainment.
In the face of these challenges, governments recognise the role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in directly addressing some of the problems of youth unemployment and employability and are committed to its development.
In this context, a large representation of educational institutions from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have undertaken a study visit on technical education to Germany and the Netherlands, in the framework of the EU-Caribbean Cooperation Facility project led by FIIAPP and funded by the European Union.
Through visits to key institutions in vocational education and training, discussions with practitioners, and exchanges on innovative practices, the participants were able to gain a 360° view of the TVET landscape in Europe to improve their decision-making in their respective countries and at regional level.
During the six days of work, the group visited the institutions responsible for the decision-making and strategic organisation of technical education, and the educational institutions that deal with the implementation of training programmes on a daily basis.
In addition, they learned about the role of other actors, such as chambers of commerce and private companies that play a key role in the development of vocational education.
After the visit, the participants defined that technical education should become: attractive, autonomous, accessible and ambitious. For his part, Edwin Dailey, coordinator of Dominica, thanked the possibility of being part of this visit and mentioned “I see great value in much of what we have been exposed to. Most importantly, it is great to have met you and I look forward to staying connected as we work to transform our own systems in the region.