Expectations of Employers and Vocational Education: What Do Employers Expect?
PRAXIS Centre for Policy Studies conducted a study to see whether Estonian private sector employers consider the competence of the employees who have graduated from vocational education in recent years to be of the required level, and what are their expectations of the vocational education system. The study combined qualitative and quantitative methods; among other things, a survey was conducted among more than 400 businesses that had employed staff with vocational education.
In general terms, employees who have received vocational education during the last five years are not rated highly by the employers. The attitude and the social maturity of young people cause concern. The employers are well aware of the improved and modern study environment and consider this a strong part of the vocational education. The most important reproach to schools is their excessive concessions where the quality of education is concerned. Employers believe that vocational schools accept students who have no interest and no ability to acquire the profession for the sake of the capitation fee. Another acute problem is that attractively named specialities are created to lure students, although these sadly have little value on the labour market. Only one third of businesses find enough employees from the graduates of vocational schools. Employers link the paucity of qualified work force to the bad reputation of vocational education. The state is expected to intervene more into the shaping of educational choices.
Regarding the cooperation of schools and businesses, the main problem is the low initiative of both parties. The ability to cooperate with vocational schools is also linked to cooperation between the businesses of a specific field.
According to the experiences of other countries, job-based training provides a good opportunity for improving the involvement of employers into the shaping of the content of vocational education, which would help to increase the concordance between the skills of the graduates and the requirements of the labour market. The awareness of the Estonian employers of the job-based study format is fairly poor, but the opportunity of providing this is viewed as positive. Experiences of other countries in reconciling the needs of the vocational education and the labour market show how important the cooperation of businesses and schools is and how important is the constant field specific work for keeping the content and the volume of the education in line with the needs of the labour market. Businesses would be happy if vocational education becomes popular and is a choice rather than a consequence.