Academic journal article International Journal of Applied Educational Studies

Sustaining the National Workforce in Jordan: An Investigation of Factors Impact Students' Enrollment in Vocational Education Majors

Academic journal article International Journal of Applied Educational Studies

Sustaining the National Workforce in Jordan: An Investigation of Factors Impact Students' Enrollment in Vocational Education Majors

Article excerpt

Abstract: The present study had two primary objectives. The first objective was to determine the factors that deter students from pursuing a vocational education major. The second objective was to provide a plausible theoretical solution for such delineation from an Islamic perspective. A total of 140 students participated in the study by completing the Vocational Education Delineation Questionnaire (VEDQ). The results indicated that students perceived their family, society, school, lack of information, and students' personal desire as major barriers, which inhibited them from pursuing a vocational education major as indicated by the mean values for each item. Furthermore, the study provided a theoretical solution that may contribute to resolving the problem of shortages in the vocational workforce in Jordan.

Keywords: Vocational Education; Sustainability, Shame Culture, Workforce Shortage; Jordan.

Introduction

Many countries across the world face serious challenges in satisfying the need for a competent and qualified workforce (Guskey, 2000; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NOTS), 2002). The challenge becomes more serious when the issue involves developing countries seeking to enter the global market. These countries, especially after signing the GATT treaty (e.g. Jordan), found themselves in a critical situation requiring them to backup their global commitments to increase their productivity and to compete with others.

Perhaps, preparing a skillful workforce represents Jordan's most serious concern. Several solutions were undertaken to eliminate this concern. The growing attention from the Jordanian Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor represents the first important step in resolving the shortage of vocational workforce in the country (Jordan Ministry of Education (MoE), 2007). These agencies have paid special attention to assisting the youth population in choosing the right vocation that matches their interest with the society's needs for the sake of providing the country with an adequate number of vocational workers (Altwasy, 2004).

In spite of the efforts that Jordan has undertaken in the area vocational education, the country still suffers from a massive shortage of competent and skilled workforces to participate effectively in the rapidly changing economical and technological global world (Billh, 1996). National statistics affirm that the enrollment of Jordanian students in vocational education in secondary education programs is still lower than educational planners expect (Billh, 1996). For example, 35% of students chose vocational education as compared to 65% that chose academic education in 1998 (Almasri, 2003). Tamimi and Wadyan (1996) emphasized that there is a low participation in the Jordanian workforce and an imbalance between outputs of the educational system and the demands of the market place. Such a direction in students' education may have some negative impacts on the market structure because of high supplies in some academic majors balanced with shortages in craftsmen and skilled workers, which may necessitate the utilization of foreign workers that currently comprise about 25% of the Jordanian labor market (Khasawneh, 1998). Moreover, such a direction may result in increasing the unemployment rate among workers who have secondary certificates or lower to an approximate rate of 65% (Almasri, 2003).

The persistence of that problem has many explanations. Most argue that the main cause of that problem is the "shame culture" that dominates the mentalities of Jordanian people (Altwasy, 2004; Rawagah & Odeh, 1997). Rawagah & Odeh (1997) define the term "shame culture" as the negative attitudes expressed by people toward vocational work and vocational workers. These attitudes have many negative consequences that complicate the workforce shortage problem in the country.

Other researchers mention that factors discouraging students from pursuing a vocational major may include parents negative attitudes toward vocational work (Alhuthi, 1986); society's low image of vocations and vocational workers, schools' negative environment toward the value of work in society (Ebtekar, 1994); and students' desire to choose a career that does not require hard work (Alghfaly, 1984). …

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