Mexico Needs More Technical EducationBy Rodrigo Brugada | Fri, 07/09/2021 - 19:37
Mexico needs to reevaluate technical education as around 60 percent of vacancies in the labor market require STEM competencies.
The current educational offer has focused mainly on social or business careers and, to a lesser extent, on health, education and humanities. UVM’s National Survey of University Graduates (ENE) reveals that 35 percent of 2020’s college graduates studied social science, administration or law, while 25 percent studied a career in the engineering, manufacturing or construction fields. Meanwhile, 12 percent graduated from the healthcare field, 10 percent from natural or computer sciences and only 6 percent from teaching, arts and humanities.
In Mexico, it is common to hear among families that technical training leads to low incomes or is for those who aspire to low-paying jobs, reports El Heraldo de México. There is also a widespread belief that students in these institutions have a lower level of education and more limited learning. Although the traditional option when thinking about education is to opt for university careers, technical training provides a viable alternative that can strengthen multiple industries.
Technical education represents training for better labor competence. For example, in countries like Switzerland, where technical education has been strengthened, youth unemployment is only 3.4 percent, while labor participation is 79 percent. In Germany, upon leaving the equivalent of high school, young people have the opportunity to choose between a university education or a technical education. If they chose the latter, they are offered options for theoretical and practical training in collaboration with multiple companies. A similar case is found in the Finnish context, where vocational education and training are designed both for young people without an upper secondary education qualification and for adults already working. Vocational qualifications can be completed in school-based training or as competency-based qualifications. Vocational education and training are mainly organized in institutions, including on-the-job learning or apprenticeship training and provides skills for both life and work, facilitating later access to university and applied science studies. In all these cases, the job prospects and remuneration make it possible to maintain a good quality of life.
What contributes most to the revaluation of technical training is the coordination between the productive and educational sectors and the promotion of quality for technological institutions. Communication between companies and educational institutions is vital for the training path to be efficient and productive. It is also essential to guarantee students opportunities for continuous training and the possibility of continuing their studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels if they so wish.
To meet current needs, students must develop skills that allow them to be linked to the workplace. Investment in technology plays a significant role here, especially in times of crisis. For their part, companies can provide support by guiding schools in updating and innovating their curricula, promoting internships, developing capacity-building activities and forums that increase interaction between the two sectors to generate alliances for the benefit of young people.
Finally, one cannot overlook the necessity and relevance of revalorizing Technical and Vocational Education and Training, focusing on gender equality.