Vocational and technical education in Ethiopia : an analysis of the demand for, and supply of, middle level technical skills
This study is about the state of vocational and technical education (VTE) in Ethiopia with particular focus on the factors governing the demand for and supply of middle level technical skills. Ethiopia is a low income agrarian country with a weak industrial base. Economic growth here presupposes, inter alia, the effective use of technologies. This, in turn, would call for the provision of middle level technical skills for deployment in various sectors of the economy. The theme of the study turns on the observations that: a) there is a chronic shortage of supply of middle level technical skills of various categories in Ethiopia; and b) VTE enrolment and expenditure on VTE are both assuming a declining trend. The burden of the thesis is to explain why VTE enrolment and expenditure have to be on the decline while shortfalls in the supply of VTE-based skills prevail. This problem, set in chapter IV, is investigated with the aid of data obtained from primary and secondary sources. The primary data derive from a sample survey covering a total of 420 individuals, including VTE and non-VTE students and employees. The secondary data were gleaned from a wide range of published and unpublished sources. Chapter V explains the problem set in chapter IV in terms of the prevalence of constraints circumscribing the activities of educational planners. Planners in Ethiopia are acutely constrained by the limited investment resources at their disposal. This, coupled with the fact that VTE is 14 to 19 times more expensive than non-VTE and the absence of any coherent manpower planning, would make planners reluctant to spend more on VTE. The consequence of this policy bias is to deprive VTE of qualified teachers and of adequate teaching facilities, thereby constraining the quality and quantity supply of VTE graduates. In chapter VI, the Problem is explained further in terms of the attitudes of individuals towards VTE and their demand for VTE. Results of the analysis of the survey data show that there is an underlying decline of interest in VTE, precipitated mainly by the socially and economically unattractive career prospects associated with VTE-related occupations. Those already in VTE-related employment are - much unlike their non-VTE counterparts - shown to be given to a high 'rate of frustration', arising from poor remuneration and unfulfilled educational and occupational aspirations. The persistence of frustration would make VTE employees ineffective in their jobs. It would also make entry into VTE less attractive thus constraining the scope for the expansion of VTE-based skill supply. The Preponderance, as at present, of such factors as cultural prejudices against VTE, the failure of the labour market to reflect shortages of skill supply by bidding up wage rates for the relevant skills, and policy restrictions on the vertical and horizontal mobility of labour, would only exacerbate the problem of excess demand over supply with respect to VTE skills. The study indicates the need for liberalisation of the labour market by removing the bureaucratic constraints on its operation, the adoption of policy measures enhancing educational and occupational prospects for VTE graduates, the adoption of cost-effective methods of providing VTE to be able to release resources for purposes of VTE expansion, and the reorganisation of VTE curricular structure in such a way as to make VTE professionally appealing to both employers and students.