The Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is a key resource for guiding the transformation and expansion of TVET and lifelong learning around the world.
Reflecting recent educational and TVET trends, and taking into account a context marked by rapid technological changes, rising concerns over youth employment, social inequalities and environmental sustainability, the Recommendation sets out a transformative vision of TVET, one that “contributes to sustainable development by empowering individuals, organizations, enterprises and communities and fostering employment, decent work and lifelong learning”. Such TVET is expected “to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and competitiveness, social equity and environmental sustainability.”
The Recommendation sets out general principles and goals for TVET, as well as provisions around five important areas:
- policies and governance,
- quality and relevance,
- monitoring and evaluation,
- research and knowledge management, and
- international co-operation.
A timely and informed revision process
The decision to revise the already existing Recommendation (adopted in 1962, revised in 1974, and again in 2001) came in response to a request from delegates at the Third International Conference on TVET in 2012; asking for an updated document which would take into account recent developments in TVET.
The revision process, led in tandem with that of the Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education, span over the course of two years (2013-2015) and resulted in the unanimous adoption of both Recommendations by Member States at UNESCO’ General Conference in November 2015, reflecting the priority given to the development of lifelong learning.
This revision was timely in that it was informed by the simultaneous discussions at the international level around the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 4 of this Agenda (SDG4-Education 2030) seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” and includes 7 targets, two of which are related to TVET (targets 4.3 and 4.4 concerned with access to and quality of TVET).
The development of the new and updated Recommendation also took into account the results of a broad consultation process, involving a diverse range of actors (Member States, International organizations, NGO’s, Youth representatives, individual experts, and the private sector).
This Recommendation thus serves as a comprehensive tool to guide decision makers, education practitioners, social partners and civil society as they seek to transform and expand their TVET systems in the context of the 2030 Agenda and Education 2030.
Emphasis of its content
The text of the Recommendation reflects recent conceptual and policy developments such as:
- A new holistic, humanistic and sustainable development context calling for a broader and wider scope for TVET, as well as reforms in the content and governance of TVET systems:
- A broader conceptualization of TVET, which is “understood as comprising education, training and skills development relating to a wide range of occupational fields, production, services and livelihoods” and which is fully part of the lifelong learning continuum. It can therefore take place “at secondary, post-secondary and tertiary levels and includes work-based learning and continuing training and professional development” as well as “a wide range of skills development opportunities.”
- A more integrated and intersectoral approach to policy development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.
- The need for inter-ministerial coordination and partnerships and mobilization of all relevant stakeholders, giving special attention to the roles of social partners, the private sector and civil society.
- The need to diversify sources of funding and to explore innovative funding mechanisms.
- A lifelong learning approach, supporting all individuals in more complex and diversified learning and careers pathways.
- The need to improve TVET’s contextual responsiveness and relevance, including with regards to the needs and reality of the world of work as well as to rapid technological progress.
Implementation & monitoring
Member States are recommended to apply the provisions of the Recommendation by taking appropriate steps, including through legislative and policy reforms, according to their national context.
UNESCO has developed several resources to assist Member States with implementation, including thematic guidelines on issues such as the Quality assurance of qualifications, Funding skills development, Learning pathways, etc. Activities such as TVET policy reviews and capacity development programmes conducted with UNESCO’s assistance, including through the UNEVOC Network, also support the implementation of the Recommendation’s provisions.
Member States are required to submit reports to UNESCO on the measures they have adopted in relation to the implementation of the Recommendation every four years. UNESCO is thus enabled to highlight achieved results, identify areas where implementation appears to be a challenge, and offer increased guidance and support to Member States. This reporting exercise also allows for the evaluation of how useful the instrument is for Member States in their work on TVET policy development and implementation.
UNESCO is also responsible for monitoring the implementation of the 1989 Convention on Technical and Vocational Education. This is conducted with reference to the provisions contained in the Recommendation concerning TVET, as proposed by the Strategy to improve visibility, ratification, implementation, monitoring and cooperation of education-related standard-setting instruments (2015-2021).