Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

The (Un)Attractiveness of Vocational and Technical Education: Theoretical Background

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

The (Un)Attractiveness of Vocational and Technical Education: Theoretical Background

Article excerpt

The imbalance between supply and demand in the labour market

For years, the European Commission has been saying that there is a shortage of workers with vocational and technical education in EU countries. In more than half of EU member states, a constant downwards trend in enrol- ment in secondary vocational and technical education programmes can be ob- served. Slovenia is among the countries where enrolment in such programmes is constantly falling (Eurostat, 2012). Particularly striking is the constant fall in enrolment in secondary vocational education programmes, which has fall- en from 28.15% of the total school population (1998/99 academic year) to just 14.47% (2010/11 academic year). Up to the 2001/02 academic year, enrolment in secondary technical education programmes also fell, mainly on account of the growth in enrolment in gimnazija programmes2. This trend reversed in the 2002/03 academic year, largely due to the continuation in the fall in enrolment in secondary vocational education programmes (Graph 1).

It is necessary to emphasise here that the rate of transition of students from secondary vocational education to further vocational-technical education is more than 75%. More than 90% of students in secondary technical education go on to tertiary education, while this figure is almost 100% for students in general secondary education (Krek & Metljak, 2011).

However, the percentage of unemployed young people with vocational education stands at 18.1%, while those with secondary technical or general edu- cation (secondary technical school and gimnazija) account for 33% (Strokovna izhodisca za leto 2013, 2012). The total share of unemployed young people with secondary education is therefore 52.1%.3 Given the almost 100% transition of young people with a general education qualification to tertiary education, we can assume that the majority of these 52.1% of young unemployed people have secondary vocational or technical education.

Current conditions in the labour market in Slovenia are broadly compa- rable to those across the 27 countries of the EU. In 2010, 49.5% of employees in the EU had secondary education, compared to 58.29% in Slovenia. Employees with tertiary education accounted for 27.7% at the EU level and for 26.10% in Slovenia. The share of employees with primary or lower secondary education (equivalent to lower vocational education) was 22.9% at the EU level and 15.1% in Slovenia. EU-27 forecasts up to 2020 show that the demand for a workforce with secondary vocational and technical education, i.e. having completed edu- cation at the secondary level, will remain at a constant level of around 50%, or 55 million jobs. (Delovno aktivno prebivalstvo..., 2012; Skills Supply..., 2010; Skills needs in Europe..., 2008).

A comparison of figures for 2007 in 2012 shows that the share of unem- ployed young people with secondary education (secondary vocational school, secondary technical school and gimnazija) fell from 58.0% to 51.1%, while the share of unemployed young people with tertiary education increased from 13.1% to 19.5%. The share of unemployed young people with elementary educa- tion or less grew from 28.0 % to 29.3%. (Strokovna izhodisca za leto 2013, 2012.) Although this last figure is a cause for concern, it is especially the falling trend in the share of unemployed young people with secondary education and the simultaneous increase in the share of unemployed young people with tertiary education that are essential for our analysis. This trend may be understood as a consequence of the fact that the majority of the secondary school population continues education at the tertiary level.

Unfortunately, the figure for the share of unemployed young people with secondary education does not allow us to distinguish unemployed gimnazija students from those who attended a vocational or technical school. On the ba- sis of the European Commission's findings regarding the shortage of workers with vocational and technical education and the ESS's findings that there is al- ready a shortage of domestic workers with, in particular, secondary vocational education (Strokovna izhodisca za leto 2013, 2012), we may conclude that an even greater imbalance between supply and demand for workers with second- ary vocational and technical education is highly likely in the future. …

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