With unemployment remaining high – the IMF has predicted the unemployment rate to rise from 13.6% in 2014 to 13.9% in 2015 – there is a pressing need to tackle the issue and address Egypt’s skills gap. Developed under the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Technical Education Strategy 2011/12 to 2016/17 recognises the need to improve technical education so that it plays a more “crucial role in economic and social development”. The strategy’s key targets include improving infrastructure for schools, raising teaching standards and ensuring that students receive a technical education. “A greater focus on practical learning needs to be emphasised in order to give students the skills necessary to enter the job market as trained professionals,” Ali El Meligui, executive director of ESLSCA Business School, told OBG.
Size & Scope
In the academic year 2014/15, out of the 3.2m students enrolled in secondary school, 52% were in MoE-administered vocational secondary schools, which offer three-year technical diplomas, five-year advanced diplomas and specialisations in industrial, commercial and agricultural skills. The most popular of these was industrial (49%), then commercial (41%) and lastly agricultural (10%). In 2014/15 female students made up around 44% of total enrolment in technical education.
A significant number of young Egyptians are in long-term and short-term vocation training centres (VTCs). Historically, a total of 16 ministries have been responsible for public VTCs and institutes offering courses that lead to diplomas, which has led to overlapping mandates and confusing oversight. Additionally, in 2012 there were 224 private VTCs and NGO-administered VTCs focused on disadvantaged groups, in particular women, unemployed youth and the disabled. For a short time, VTCs fell under the authority of the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training, created in 2014. However, in September 2015, the ministry merged with the MoE.
More than 127,000 post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) students were enrolled across 68 institutions and in 22 disciplines, according to the most recent statistics available.
As with many North Africa and Middle Eastern markets, encouraging students into technical tracks at the post-secondary level is a challenge, in part because of the broader social assumptions about the importance of a university degree.
The OECD noted in its “Review of VET – A Skills beyond School Review of Egypt”, published in March 2015, that “VET in Egypt remains an option that is often perceived as low status, where institutional coordination is insufficient, and where quality assurAPPRENTICE PROGRAMME: In partnership with the government, the British Council is developing an apprenticeship scheme to bridge the country’s skills gap. Based on the UK model and initiated in 2011, the Modern Adult Apprenticeship programme brings together leading training providers and employers to deliver an internationally benchmarked combination of classroom learning and on-the-job experience.
In addition to enhancing skills and employability, the apprenticeship scheme is also helping to inform thinking on skills policy in Egypt, and an increasing number of employers from a range of sectors have expressed an interest in becoming involved.
The Way Forward
The significant interest in the vocational education model includes a new emphasis on job experience and technical and vocational skills from an early age. This is in line with a plan that was introduced under Hosni Mubarak, the former president, which places special attention on getting students out of the classroom and into job training, in collaboration with the private sector. Increasingly, vocational education is seen by many sector professionals as a vital component of education in Egypt.
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