NCTEVT Successfully Concluded [Archives:1999/09/Business & Economy]

March 1 1999

The National Conference on Technical Education and Vocational Training was successfully concluded on Saturday, February 27th. The delegates adopted a communique – given below – which is expected to serve as the guideline for future development of this sector.
All participants – local and foreign, private or government, seemed satisfied with the results. Hatem Bamehriz of Yemen Times talked to some of them, and reported as follows:
“We have been supporting the NCTEVT for about 20 years. Every year we train 10-15 trainers. The idea is that they come after completion of our 2 years course, and help to improve the quality of teaching, and to train others because we can only train a limited number in Germany. We have trained about 200 trainers, with an investment of $60,000 per trainer. Humans are the main factor and the real resources, that’s why we give them great importance. At the same time we have German experts here to help develop the institutes,” said Mr. Herbert Burk, Director of the German Foundation for International Development.
“This is the first time for me to see the result of our training in Germany. Frankly speaking I think the result is a little bit mixed. These people are good in the technical field and methodology, but our expectation goes beyond the actual teaching. The fact that they have not passed on their knowledge and skills to other trainers is making us rather feel sad, it seems that there were no plans to utilize these people in order to train others. Also the relation between the vocational training and the labor market needs to be more organized and coordinated,” said Mr. Burk
Dr. Reihard Klose of DES added, “Many of our trainees who are teaching now are working here in Yemen, some are in the ministry of labor, some with the GTZ, some are self-employed. The technology given to students in Yemen is more or less the basic technology. The modern technology needs more, so we should rise to higher technological levels, in other words raise our technology to modern levels.”
Dr. Michael Guder, Government Advisor on Vocational Training Sector, German Development Cooperation, indicated, “During the period of 20 years, the German Government financed many activities in vocational training in Yemen. These include the VTCs in Sanaa and Aden. It also provided assistance to the Ministry of Labor and GAVTT. Also many trainers were trained in Germany. We now have some new ideas like the promotion of small and medium size enterprises,” said Dr. Michael Guder
Mr. Rainer Freund, Head of the Technical Advisory Office of the European Commission in Sanaa, said, “The vocational training systems in Yemen are at crossroads. Previously, not everything was done right, and resources might not have been adequately used to qualify people that are really needed by the market. I think the current government and Minister Al-Tayab have recognized the need to change that. He involves the most important employers in revamping the system. We do have some instruments with employers participation, like the Skill Development Fund, where private employers co-finance special vocational training forces, and they will contribute to more efficiency in more market orientation of the system, and this is a very important step forward.”Mr. Freund went on to say, “We are trying to focus on areas where we can have a quick impact, like tourism. We are focusing on training in tourism, hotel business, catering, and oil and gas services, etc. Oil and gas is the most important sector of the economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings, and also in terms of employment.”
The World Bank participants also expressed enthusiasm. Mr. Vasilios Demetriou is the Task Manager for the on going vocational and technical education project in Yemen,. He is also the Senior Implementation Specialist, Human Development Group for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank. Of the vocational training effort, he said, “We have $ 24 million dollar credit for this project. We are now in our second year of implementation, we are steadily making progress. In collaboration with the ILO, we are consolidating the existing system which is in a very bad state in terms of physical, and educational aspects such as the material and linkage with the labor market,” Vasilios concluded.
Another World Bank official, Mr. Qaiser Khan, who is based in Sanaa, added, “We provide the technical inputs by commenting on the plans, providing global prospective, and giving financial support.
“The major problem in Yemen is the lack of economic growth in the first place. Economic growth is slow. The falling oil prices made it worst. Unless economic growth takes up, whatever else you do will never work out.” he explained.
Engineer Abdel-Basit Saleh, a curriculum development specialist working in Yemen for the last six months in a project funded by the World Bank, noted, “The project aims to develop curricula for short term training courses in different occupations, mainly in the mechanical, electrical electronic, and construction fields. Later on, the Yemen authorities added tourism, agriculture, and other fields.””The old curricula related to the above occupations have a lot of deficiencies. First, there was no clear policy or basics according to which curricula are developed. Second, the contents of these curricula are very poor, by mainly emphasizing on the syllabus. Third, there is no mechanism to introduce change in the old curricula,” Mr. Saleh explained.
Dr. Naji Al-Mahdi is the Director of Bahrain Training Institute and Advisor to the High Council for Vocational Training in Bahrain. Here is what he had to say:
“Vocational training is the same all over the world, because at the end of the day what you are trying to achieve is to impart knowledge, skills and attitudes to individuals. The main differences between Yemen and Bahrain is the economic characteristic and the social conditions. You will find that in Bahrain, there will be need to certain skills, which might not be relevant in Yemen. The differences are also in the interactions and linkage between the educational system, training programs, and employment opportunities. Yet, in a way, I think we all face similar problems. That is because with our limited resources, we have to try and get maximum efficiency and effectiveness within the framework of our systems, and make the system as relevant as possible to the needs of our societies and industries,” said Dr. Naji.
Mohammed Abdo Saeed, a well-known businessman and Chairman of the Social Development Fund, agrees. “Markets change faster than everything else. so our job is to catch up with market needs by producing relevant skills. The catch word is employable skills. We have to make sure that the graduates of our educational and training programs possess qualifications that are relevant to the market,” he disclosed.
In commenting about the conference and the experiences of other nations, he added, “Of course, it is important to learn from the experiences of other countries. We do not have the luxury of trying to re-invent the wheel. Therefore, we have to find our own solutions. You see, you and I have different sizes. If you wear my suit, or I try wearing yours, we will feel awkward.”
But his harshest comments were about the meaning of an expanded training program when thee is no economic growth. “The fact that the private sector is involved in the training is fine and good. The fact that training is oriented towards market needs is also fine and good. But what is the point of all of this, and the purpose of graduating young skilled people if there is not new investment and no adequate growth in the economy. The starting point in all of this exercise is strong economic growth,” said the keen-eyed businessman.
The final words went to Eng. Mohammed Al-Tayeb, Minister of Labor and Vocational Training. “Yemen is a developing country, and we need well trained people in all fields – agriculture, oil, tourism, industry, services etc. We need to grow in all these fields in a scientific, and well designed manner. We will try not to leave room for failure or accidents,” he said. “The government has made vocational training and human development its priority concern. We can see this through the many relevant political decrees, and sincere efforts they put into organizing this and other conferences. You can see the number of ministers and other senior officials who have actively participated with us over five days. We are trying to pin down the mistakes of the past, and then find solutions. I am full of confidence that the government will try to implement all the recommendations of this conference,” he added.
On the issue of the place of women in vocational training, he indicated, “Unfortunately, our society looks down on women. It is not impartial. But social and economic changes now force both men and women to change their attitudes. This fact compels our society to accept that women work. We took this into consideration and we have created many training opportunities for women.”
  The Final Communique of the Conference:
The conference has reached the following recommendations as a basis for developing a national strategy for this sector with the purpose of optimal exploitation of its human resources in meeting market demand. But, first, the following needs have to be addressed:
1. There is need for a comprehensive macro-planning for manpower development in order to maximize return based on market demand.
2. There is need for putting together comprehensive educational policies in general, and for technical and vocational training in particular. Such policies must take into consideration people’s skills and inclinations, and at the same time the overall needs of Yemen’s development process.
3. There is need for mobilizing funding for educational and training financing and investment, at the local and international levels.
Addressing those needs requires focus on the following priorities:
1. The establishment of a supreme council to plan manpower development whether in education in general or in technical/vocational training. Such a council should include in its membership private businesses and other relevant parties.
2. To revise employment and remuneration policies in order to encourage enrollment in technical and vocational training.
3. To re-structure the vocational/technical training program into a more wholesome pattern, and to provide adequate financing and other resources to increase its absorptive capacity through cooperation with Arab and international partners.
4. To put together flexible mechanisms to develop and change curricula to adapt to changing market needs and technological progress.
5. To develop information as relevant to market conditions and technical/vocational training.
6. To diversify types and patterns of vocational/technical training to meet localized economic needs.
7. To expand the role and participation of the private sector in planning and executing vocational and technical education and on the job training.
8. To develop the regulations and procedures of the National Fund for Financing Technical/Vocational Training to maximize returns.
9. To set up a promotional hierarchy in technical training compatible with the educational pyramid to encourage its members towards self-development.
10. To pay adequate attention to the teachers and trainers and to continue training them through periodic upgrading and by adjusting their remuneration.
11. To initiate programs for training for employment of the private sector, as well as for small enterprises. Relations on small and medium scale enterprises and the institutions of vocational and training must be strengthened.
12. To prepare and execute a national plan to guide the students, trainees and their families, and those in search of employment.
13. To introduce a system that will allow trainees in vocational/technical training to continue with their education in the various educational opportunities.