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“Discovering your own talent”

Shyamal Majumdar, UNESCO expert from Bonn, on the fight against youth unemployment

Interview: Johannes Göbel, 08.11.2019
Vocational training in Ethiopia: success with practical skills
Vocational training in Ethiopia: success with practical skills © dpa

Shyamal Majumdar, internationally renowned education expert from India, was appointed as the Head of the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Bonn in 2011. An interview about the worldwide potential of TVET.

Shyamal Majumdar: “Vocational education is the key”
Shyamal Majumdar: “Vocational education is the key” © UNESCO-UNEVOC

Mr. Majumdar, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 4 is quality education. It highlights the relevance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). What are the reasons for the worldwide increasing importance of TVET?
TVET is the master key to unlock the answers to many of the issues that surround the development agenda of the UN member states. The educational, social, technological and economical imperatives progressively raised TVET as a priority in all the regions of the globe. After the Millennium Development Goals achieved the expansion of primary and secondary education, a huge number of secondary education level graduates need jobs. For many of these graduates, TVET could be an alternative path to continue their education,  acquire practical skills and competencies and realize one’s potential and talent. But there is also a socal and sustainable development imperative: Regarding climate change, technical and vocational skills are a key factor in the development of skills to expand renewable and clean technologies. And there is also an economic imperative: As we can see worldwide, a lack of jobs is not the main problem. But there is a huge skills mismatch between the supply of graduates and the actual demand. We don’t want education for education’s sake. We want education for work – which is decisively provided by TVET.

What is the core of UNESCO-UNEVOC’s international work?
We manage a global network of TVET institutions. Worldwide, there are 255 UNEVOC centers in almost 165 countries. Our goal is to improve the TVET system in each country, with the UNEVOC centers contributing effectively to this improvement. Capacity development for better Technical and Vocational Education and Training is at the core of our work. We are also giving a very high priority to knowledge sharing between the different countries. Everybody can learn something from everyone.

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What is your view on Germany, the host country of the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training?
Germany is known globally to be leading in terms of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. The TVET system has a huge tradition in Germany, particularly the dual education system has proven to be successful in Germany for a very long time. And this is also a one of the reasons, why Germany weathered the global financial crisis of 2008 extraordinarily well. Being at the center where there is constant priority to TVET, social partnerships and quality of TVET-oriented jobs echoes the high importance of TVET and we elevate this message at the global level. We are very fortunate that Germany is our host country, and we are working closely together with several German ministries and institutions like the BMBF, BMZ, GIZ and the BIBB.

Which issues will be especially important for UNESCO-UNEVOC in the upcoming years?
We will continue tackling youth unemployment, since we believe it is the key challenge of this world. We put a special emphasis on innovation and bottom-up entrepreneurship and support entrepreneurial and start-up activities. Another main target of UNESCO-UNEVOC is to make TVET more inclusive for women and disadvantaged groups. We do not believe that GDP growth is not the only measure of social progress. Of course, the potential of digitalization plays also a significant role for UNESCO-UNEVOC in future. For example, we have launched the new project Bridging Innovation and Learning in TVET (BILT), One main ambition of the BILT project is to enable exchange of experiences and peer learning across the UNEVOC Network in the areas of digitalization and industry 4.0, Climatic change, Entrepreneurial learning and Migration.


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