By Basem Banishamsa
By concentrating on technical vocational training and education (TVET) in the State of Palestine, policymakers chose a safe option to contribute to efforts to reduce unemployment rates. The highest rates of unemployment in Palestine are found among graduates of higher education institutions, as reflected in a study carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2019: 42,000 young men and women graduated while the sectors in the Palestinian market could only absorb 8,000 new university graduates as employees, employees from all specializations, which means that approximately 34,000 new graduates are classified as unemployed.
In other indicators from the same study, 54 percent of employees work in the private sector, 44 percent of them as technicians. Such studies and statistics confirm that TVET is not only an important path for students who wish to increase their employability but also a good strategy for the government to reduce unemployment rates among youth.
TVET furthermore enables youth to create a global imprint for their specialization. With technological developments advancing worldwide, the world needs new specializations, which also reflects upon the Palestinian market. Every specialization interacts with others. For example, both doctors and carpenters need technical knowledge to use the digital software that is needed for their work and to communicate with beneficiaries. Thus, efforts to keep up with global developments in terms of advanced knowledge in traditional specializations and the creation of new ones have had a direct impact on TVET centers in the State of Palestine. Carpentry today is not the same as it was ten years ago. It has been updated with computerized design in order to respond to people’s needs and desires. In addition, the TVET centers have included new specializations such as renewable energy, smart buildings technology, and programming.
TVET specializations are included at all levels of official and nonofficial education. Students who have gained TVET specializations can list such training as education, whether it was obtained in a center or at TVET schools, colleges, universities, or other higher education institutions. They can be employed in the Palestinian and global markets that need specialized technicians at all levels. According to a study of global trends and future market needs, TVET specializations are connected directly and indirectly with eight of ten specializations that the market needs. Specializing in fields such as data security, programming, renewable energy, 3D printing, e-learning techniques, digital marketing, front-page design, and car technology enables TVET graduates to land a job and secure an income. Attending TVET specialization centers and schools allows students to continue their training for a limited time and then find sustainable jobs. TVET provides not only a unique chance to join the market without having to spend many years in educational institutions but also a good start to generate income in a short time.
NGOs and other organizations support TVET. During the last years and due to the real need for technicians in the Palestinian market, NGOs, official bodies, and supporting organizations have tended to pay more attention to TVET centers and schools. This is reflected through such initiatives as the establishment of the National Committee for TVET or the founding of Nablus University for Vocational and Technical Education. More donors are interested in the development of TVET centers and curricula and aim to raise awareness of TVET among students and their families, enticing them to join such training.
The organization Palestinian Vision is one of the leading organizations that guide students towards sustainable employment. Since its establishment in 1998, Palestinian Vision has been fully aware of the importance of offering education in all forms to empower and enable the new generations. The organization started working in the education sector side by side with young men and women in programs and projects. While their visions and strategies differed, their goal was one: to attract various resources and identify methods to devise mechanisms that support and encourage youth to learn.
Palestinian Vision implemented activities that focus on raising the awareness of students on market needs through guided visits to TVET centers, colleges, and universities. It also coordinated with employment providers to create opportunities for students to practice the specific job-related skills that they believe fit well (shadow jobs).
The scope of work has since been expanded to cover more TVET guidance. Palestinian Vision now implements Holland’s Job Aptitude Test and has created a website and application called Darb.ps where graduates can find all the tools they need for their TVET future, in addition to data on specializations and market needs.
Darb aims to assist students in identifying their TVET destinations, providing guidance and imparting knowledge to families and mentors to help students identify their destinations. Darb was created to benefit students, families, mentors, and all persons interested in TVET. It eases access to information that is readily available, drafted under the supervision of a specialized team.