Choice Career or Defaulting?

I have been working in an agriculture/food industry vocational high school as a teacher of common knowledge classes for sixteen years. I believe the domestic vocational education system is multi-faceted and in need of an extensive analysis. We cannot define long-term goals and objectives without understanding the present situation.

Unfortunately most students who choose this trade have no other option, other institutions do not admit them. Students who consciously choose this field are rare. I estimate that half the students arriving at our school do so by their own choice, while the other half are defaulted to a forced path. Many who join high schools arrive with very modest knowledge. Most are very unmotivated, with only rare exceptions who are carrying their familial heritage onwards by taking up their parents’ trade. The most motivated students are the ones that already have a business, the ones who grew up in this world. The scholarship system, the possibility of not receiving a payout, the low rate of scholarships does not make the profession attractive for the youth.

Besides the low application rate the most critical issue in vocational training is the huge number of dropouts. Dropping out has become so drastic, that only 25% or less of the students obtain a degree from the original class. There may be many underlying causes. It is a common sentiment that skilled laborer is a derogatory term, the honor of skilled labor comes under harsh judgement. This negative change in attitude which can be sensed in the parents and grandparents views becomes more reinforced in the present world.

It can be also said that the change of regime has left its mark on the practice. The loss of market has naturally seeped into vocational training as well. The drastic drop in jobs brings about a contraction in the vocational training system. Automation and the progress of technology points in a direction where human work force is required less and less. (E.g.: In the United States food production is already fully automated)

Even though many share the opinion that education is an investment in the future, this cannot be felt in the financing of trade schools. There is little opportunity for practical training, most of the workshops are outdated, many places use old technology, so it is impossible to keep up the pace with the western countries of the European Union.

The change of the vocational education system every 2-3 years does not indicate a well thought-out, long term strategy. The situation was totally different before the change in regime: markets, jobs, and a secured livelihood. But it seems that the vocational training system went through a huge, multi-yeared loop only to arrive back to the system that was present just before the regime change.

Our task is no less than to operate and develop vocational education, working together with operator and trade groups, in order to provide the market with a competitive skilled workforce. This is a common interest for all of society. We hope to find contributing partners to our work throughout all groups participating in education.

Tamás Négyesi 





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