Vocational Education and Training: A feasible alternative for Sri Lanka

10 September 2018 12:07 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



"Vocational education should be oriented to the manpower need of the country"

"Vocational education is economic education"

"Every person is important and has dignity and right to be educated"

"Pupils at all levels should have some occupationally oriented education"


Due to the technological change in concrete terms have led to rapid introduction of modern technology in every sphere of economic activity. The rate of change has also led to continuous changes in education and occupation. These changes have been occurring in different directions and different speeds compared to changes in education system. 

When most students have to be educated up to the age of 16 or 18, it is imperative that education imparted. especially in later years, should be linked with their working life. At early stages of technological transformation of society, the skill profile is pyramidal. most of the jobs would be at the base of pyramidal requiring small preparation in terms of education and skill development. At later stages the structure tends to become urn-shaped with maximum workers at the middle level of skills with concomitant requirement of education and skills. Vertical specialization become an important feature and differentiated entry points in occupational areas emerge. The stratification occupational levels has given rise to three levels of education namely, vocational, technical, professional.

Concept of vocational education  

Vocational education is specific career or trade excluding the professions. Vocational education sources on practical application of skill learned and is generally unconcerned with theory or traditional academic skills. A large part of the education in vocational institutes is learned on training. Vocational training of those provided a link between education and working world. It is usually provided either at the high school level or in a post-secondary trade school. 

Principles of Vocational Education  

Vocational education is based on the following principles. 


(a) Every person is important and has dignity and right to be educated. Society has responsibility to give every youngster the appearing to develop to the fullest extent of his capabilities.

(b) Vocational education is economic education as it is geared to the need of job market and those contribute to national economic strength.

(c) Vocational education can develop a   marketable man by developing his ability to perform skills that extend his utility as a tool of production.  

(d) Vocational education is an education for production to serve the end of economic system and is said to have social utility.

(e) Vocational education at the secondary level is concerned with preparation of the individual for initial entry employment.

(f) Vocational education should be orient to the manpower need of the country.

(g) Vocational education should be evaluated on the basis of its economic efficiency.


In the history of vocational education, a number of definitions have emerged. 

Smith Hughes defines vocational education on that education “which is under public supervision or control that the controlling purpose of such education shall be to fit far useful Employment. That such education shall be of less than college grade and that such education be designed to meet the needs of persons over fourteen years of age who have entered or who are preparing to enter work” (work of the farm trade of industrial per unit)  

George Deen the George Barder did not appreciably change the definition but added more disciplines and services. They also provided for federal funds to be spent to distribute occupations. Salaries and counsellors and research.

Apart from that education for work – a report on the current scene in vocational education, spend out a frame work which postulates the followings.

 One objective of education for and youth be preparation for occupation.

Pupils at all levels should have some occupationally oriented education. 

Such schooling on the part of the core of all education should touch all of the capacities of all individuals and it should be viable in a rapidly changing technological society.

It should be open – entered not terminal and   
It should be recognized a providing only part of the total continuing educational input to an occupational career.

Constrained present vocational education on system: Zero – sum problem - Young students are attached toward the stream because of the advantage or incentives it offers Especially those related to the labour market in forms of jobs, income on career prospects. Therefore, an improved incentive in one part of the system must be matched by reduced incentive elsewhere.  

Labour market recruitment and training - Education policy makers are unable to influence the way labour market incentive are distributed in relation to participation and attainment in education. They have little control over selection process and the resulting market. Signals conveyed to future students. 

Institutional inertia -Educational institutions do not easily restructure themselves. Vested interests and expectations are slow to change.

Learning -Enable students to acquire the knowledge and competencies required at their destinations. They must take account of changing skills demands and the way tasks and skills are combined within occupations.

Mismatch Between Education and Occupation

Lack of congruence between number of young people completing a program and occupational opportunities create mismatches and unemployment.

Operationally, the extent of mismatch between education and employment is measured by the following indicators as follows.

The correspondence between the aggregate supply of occupational skills and distribution of employment across occupation.

The extent to which individuals entering the labour market find employment in occupations related to their field of study.

Other labor market indicators such as the rate of return or more simply earnings or employment rates of young workers from different disciplines or trades.
Evidences of skill shortages or recruitment difficulties experienced by employees.

In the ‘Sri Lankan’ Context

Sri Lankan vocational education system has been introduced by British in 1893, Initially to train the blue colour personnel to run the railway and the tea factories.

urrently, Sri Lanka’s Technical Vocational education training is characterized by multitude of agencies including training program of public and private sectors.

tandards and curriculum development agencies and regulatory body. Which is the tertiary and vocational education commission. Operating under the preview of the ministry of vocational training and skill development. National Apprenticeship and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) and the University for Vocational Technology (UNIVOTEC) previously had been known as the national institute of technical education Sri Lanka. 

In Europe, Vocational Education and Training (VET) are considered necessities and prepared skill for professional jobs. Large scale companies hire vocationally trained all individual who prosess the strength and soft skills experiences and the job training needed to the challenges in day to day work environment. 
Because of this youth unemployment and unemployment related problems remain relatively low in Europe specially, Germany and Switzerland considering other counties such as India and Vietnam are looking for similar mechanism to overcome unemployment and to strengthen their economics through a workforce that has been empowered by vocational training.


"In Sri Lanka, vocational training follows the dual programmes where students obtain on the job training as well as work experience the three year programme consist of theoretical as well as practical component"


Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka for instance most companies and public sector institute will hesitate to recruit an employee without a degree despite having the advantages On the Job Training (OJT) skills and learned knowledge.

In Sri Lanka, vocational training follows the dual programmes where students obtain on the job training as well as work experience the three year programme consist of theoretical as well as practical component. Sri Lankan public and private sector organizations will also tend to get this advantage of this trade. By following the European System, it will shift the onus from the government sector to private sector to provide training to the youth of the country. Because the private sector identified needs and is also able to adopt the training to changing requirements. However large private sector companies including. ICC, Sanken and public sector institutes such as SEC, CECB have played pivotal roles and active parts in training, interning and recruiting students from university colleges and VET centres throughout Sri Lanka.

Many of these trainees have gone on to make a significant difference to their centres and changes to their life style as well. Some of them have faced lucrative employment overseas. 


Author is Director - University College of Batangala

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