A dynamic force that transcends traditional classrooms, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is an important component of the UK education system, providing learners with practical skills and knowledge to help them develop successful professions. However, TVET colleges are not just a means for individuals to earn skills and certificates to enter the labour market – it is also a great way to provide social support and engage with local communities, remove barriers to education, and create a pipeline of skilled talents for industries across the country.
Today, TVET in the UK is a vibrant and diverse landscape, brimming with exciting opportunities for young people and professionals in any industry to develop practical skills and gain invaluable knowledge. With courses spanning a wide array of sectors, from construction and engineering to healthcare and hospitality, there is something for everyone.
How Does TVET Provide Social Support?
1. Better Employability
TVET programs have the potential to promote better employability and social mobility by providing learners with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce, increasing their chances of finding employment, which is now more critical than ever in some industries as the UK faces an ageing workforce and skill shortage.
For instance, a survey from The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) estimated that the construction sector is in need of 158,000 new workers in order to continue upcoming large housing and infrastructure projects. Hence, TVET programs can help to fill skills gaps in the labour market and ensure that businesses have access to the talent they need to grow and thrive. This approach can also help to reduce unemployment rates, increase wages, and improve economic mobility for individuals and communities.
2. Enhance Local Economies
TVET programs are more than just educational institutions -they are community builders. By partnering with local businesses and organisations, these programs create a bridge between learners and the workforce, giving students real-world experience and practical training. This approach not only benefits the learners but also strengthens the local economy by providing businesses with a pipeline of skilled workers.
TVET programs also recognise that not everyone has equal access to education and training – which is why they often team up with community organisations to provide resources and training to underserved populations. For example, a TVET program may partner with a local community centre to provide training in basic computer skills to individuals who have limited access to technology. This partnership not only empowers individuals with new skills but also helps to bridge the digital divide in the community.
3. Community Involvement
TVET has a way of not only growing the community but also bringing people together by making sure that everyone has access to relevant courses. You would find that TVET organisations tend to collaborate closely with local communities. This way, it ensures that TVET programmes can be adapted to specific communities’ needs.
An example could be the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester which engages with rural communities by equipping learners with agricultural and farming skills and information. Its programs offer training in animal husbandry, crop cultivation, and farm management, helping learners develop the skills they need to succeed in these industries. Now that we know some of TVET’s benefits for the local communities, how do these institutions engage their people in society?
The Top 3 Ways TVETs Can Empower Communities:
1. Workshops and Events
TVET providers occasionally organise workshops and events to engage with local communities and promote their courses. TVET providers may look into organising a workshop that provides hands-on training on specific courses or even a general event that can provide visitors with the opportunity to speak with instructors, current students, and alumni to learn more about their experiences and ask questions about courses offered at the institution.
For instance, Leeds City College is active in organising campus tours and open days for keen learners.
2. Partnerships with Employers
TVET institutions also partner with employers to develop courses that meet the needs of the local job market. This helps to ensure that students are gaining skills that are in demand and provides them with opportunities for work placements and apprenticeships. TVET and employer partnership often lead to tailored courses that can meet the specific needs of the company and provides students with the opportunity to gain valuable experience through work placements and apprenticeships.
For example, The Manchester College announced late last year that they were partnering with employers from the creative and hospitality industries to give their students a deeper insight into the working world, with co-designed curriculums, guest lectures, masterclasses and more.
3. Community Outreach
Last but certainly not least, TVET providers tend to engage with local communities through community outreach programs, providing information and support to individuals who may be interested in pursuing vocational education or underprivileged communities. These outreach programs are meant to provide information and resources to individuals who might not have access to traditional educational opportunities. One good example of this would be from The University of Leeds – an institution that tends to have outreach programs, be it online through workshops or on-campus events.
In summary, TVET plays a crucial role in not only upskilling the workforce – but it’s also here to empower and engage people by providing accessible and relevant training opportunities that meet the needs of learners and local industries. As the UK continues to face the challenges of a rapidly changing economy, TVET programs are poised to play an even greater role in preparing the next generation of workers with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce and contribute to their communities.