“Should I pursue university career path or choose technical vocational education and training instead?” “What occupation and school should I choose to match my interest, ability, and to ensure job opportunities after graduation?” These were some of the common questions raised by participating high school students and their parents during the discussions on the Open Day which took place on April 22, 2018, at the LILAMA 2 International Technology College (LILAMA 2) in Long Thanh, Dong Nai province. The Open Day attracted more than 1,200 participants including students, their parents and the management boards from high schools in Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Lam Dong provinces, LILAMA 2 alumni and current trainees as well as human resource managers from enterprises.
In many countries vocational education is the second or third choice career path, as parents usually do their utmost to send their children to university. However, the economy needs well-qualified skilled workers too. The basic idea of the Programme Reform of TVET in Vietnam is to bring vocational education out of the shade, make it attractive and give young people a closer understanding of vocational education.
Today, we are in Ninh Thuan Vocational College. A photography exhibition on vocational training is due to open here in the college. Two weeks have been spent working with teachers and students to transform the college into a gigantic photography studio. All the walls were painted and cleaned up to start with, then the equipment was moved into the right light and set up in compliance with safety requirements. The final step was to set up our photography lights. Cheered on by their fellows and trainers, the trainees presented their jobs in front of the camera. There was also a small element of critique when the students asked their teacher to pose for the picture of the model of a “perfect teacher” – and then gave him tips on camera as to how he could become a better teacher.
We are sitting in the schoolyard and observing pupils from local secondary schools, parents and industry representatives as they view the exhibition. The college’s training workshops have been turned into a gallery. “... become a metalworker”, “... become a welder”, “... become an electrician” say the slogans on the photographs, which display the workplace activities of the skilled workers of the future. With the help of the photographs, vocational college graduates proudly describe their promising careers to the visitors. Final-year students explain their own pictures and occupations, since they actually appear on the photographs in the exhibition. They are the face of vocational training!
Photography exhibitions have been used to initiate discussions on the quality of vocational education among teaching staff, school management, policy makers and parents. The Vietnamese government has set itself a major target: to increase the number of skilled workers from 32.2 per cent to 55 per cent by 2020. After all, highly qualified workers are essential if the country is to achieve its ambition of becoming a modern industrialised nation by 2020. Our Vietnamese-German vocational education programme is exploring further culture-specific approaches to attain the requisite improvements in the quality and image of vocational training.