TVET Governance: the role of institutional leaders

We are very grateful to Faith Graham and Andrew Dean for leading this work as well as all of the survey respondents and interviewees who contributed. This piece marks the final step in our series on governance and provides an important voice for institutional leaders to reflect on what they see as critical issues and opportunities related to TVET Governance. We know that they are the key agents of change and those that make policy happen and this report throws up some profound questions for policy makers.

Independence and autonomy is a somewhat relative term as shown by the 99% of survey respondents who identified that they had the ability to innovate. Clearly their contexts are varied and some of the respondents from countries with more devolved systems may not recognise those from more hierarchical structures as having this ability to the same degree.

The leaders of TVET institutions reference minimal resistance to change but a high level of concern about the resources and finance allocated to support that reform. Policy makers may well disagree with institutional leaders on this point but it does beg the question of how best they can support transformational agendas at an institutional level?

Devolution is not binary. Further thought needs to be given to what to devolve. For example with labour market information it is surely beneficial to be closer to local needs to inform local decision making but a central agency with responsibility may find it easier to form the expertise and rigour to develop high quality data. How best do policy makers balance the two?

Equally the reasons for seeking greater autonomy must be interrogated. We can be confident that all actors seek to deliver the best outcomes for learners but from a business perspective would greater autonomy over, for example, curricula, which many desire, result in a closer alignment between the needs of the labour market and the skills learners gain? Or, could it lead to institutions simply teaching what they know in order to avoid costly investment in staff development or setting curricula that is too specific to local employers and limiting learners’ currency in the broader labour market?

This report is timely and we do hope that it provides some interesting considerations for those working in TVET governance both in the UK and overseas. We at the British Council will learn from this series and continue to encourage closer links between education, employers and policy makers to help enhance the skills and employability of young people globally. We are sure that the UK experience and practice is relevant to inform devolution agendas overseas and that we as a system have much we can learn from collaboration with other countries mutually benefitting us all. The British Council will continue to support the development of this friendly knowledge and understanding.