A recent workforce assessment under the auspices of the Greater Guyana Initiative (GGI) has revealed concerning dropout rates and low completion statistics among students enrolled in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes across the country.

The report highlights that a substantial percentage of students are discontinuing their courses prematurely and/or failing to complete the necessary exams for certification. Among those who persevere to the stage of examination, it was found that 42% do not pass.

Guyana’s TVET landscape comprises a diverse range of courses offered by both public and private institutions, designed to meet the growing demands of the country’s evolving economy. Public TVETs are classified into two primary types: TVET Centres and TVET Institutes. TVET Centres are smaller, community-based entities that focus on short-term, specialized training programs tailored to the needs of local economies. They are widely distributed across various regions, ensuring accessibility to technical and vocational education for community members. In contrast, TVET Institutes are larger, more comprehensive institutions typically located in urban centers and larger towns.

Despite the broad scope of TVET offerings and their potential to meet market demands, the report indicates significant challenges in student retention and certification. According to data from the Ministry of Education (MOE) for the 2019-2020 period, many students are discontinuing their courses before completion.

The underlying reasons for these high dropout rates remain unclear, as the report lacks specific data on why students are leaving and whether they subsequently enter the labor market without TVET qualifications.

The report also underscores the critical role of certifications in enhancing employability. Employers, particularly in the construction and oil and gas sectors, demonstrate a clear preference for hiring qualified workers with formal certifications. Therefore, increasing the completion rates of TVET students is seen as a key strategy to boost the number of certified professionals in the labor market, thereby supporting economic growth and development.

To address the challenges facing Guyana’s TVET sector, the report recommends a series of measures aimed at improving educational outcomes and increasing the number of certified skilled workers. It suggests that the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (CTVET) conduct bi-annual surveys of enterprises to better understand market shifts and adapt their courses accordingly.

This proactive approach would help ensure that TVET programmes remain aligned with current and future labor market demands. It also advocates for shortening the duration of courses to facilitate quicker certification and entry into the workforce. Introducing multiple exit points with qualifications at various stages can enable students to earn credentials while continuing their education part-time, thereby supporting lifelong learning and career advancement.

Additionally, the report emphasizes the need to expand micro-certifications based on employer feedback, allowing workers to rapidly acquire new skills in emerging fields such as green building, solar installation, and building modeling, which will enhance their employability and adaptability in a changing economy. The recognition and certification of prior learning are also highlighted as crucial, as many former TVET students have acquired skills but lack formal certification. Programmes that recognize prior learning and certify existing skills can signal to employers that these individuals are qualified for specific roles, thus improving their job prospects and contributing to a more skilled workforce.

Developing a hybrid model of education that combines online theoretical learning with practical on-the-job apprenticeships is another recommendation listed in the report. This approach can help scale up the number of qualified workers by allowing students to gain practical experience while studying, aligning their training with industry needs, and enhancing their readiness for employment.

Strengthening partnerships between TVET institutions and enterprises is identified as another key strategy that the report recommended. Such collaborations the report states, can ensure that training programmes are relevant to industry needs and provide students with practical, hands-on experience. These partnerships can also facilitate internships and job placements, reducing the skills gap and enhancing the employability of TVET graduates. By working closely with enterprises, TVET institutions can actively contribute to reducing the skills gap and ensuring that the workforce is equipped with the skills needed for economic growth. Partnerships may also lead to the sharing of resources, equipment, and facilities, allowing TVETs to access industry-standard tools and technologies that might be financially challenging to procure independently.

The GGI’s workforce assessment underscores the urgent need for reforms in Guyana’s TVET sector to address high dropout rates and improve certification outcomes. The report states that implementing these strategies can help TVET institutions better align their programmes with market demands, increase the number of qualified workers, and support the country’s economic growth and development.

As Guyana continues to expand its industries, particularly in construction and oil and gas, the report states that a robust and responsive TVET system will be crucial in ensuring a skilled and adaptable workforce capable of meeting the challenges and opportunities of a dynamic economy.


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