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Importance of Vocational Training in Community Development

By Charlotte

A well planned community development system helps people recognize and develop their abilities and potentials and also in organizing themselves to respond to their problems and needs. Moreover, Good community development seeks to empower local communities, that is to say both the geographical communities, communities of common interest and identity as well as those communities organizing around specific themes or policy initiatives.

On the other hand, the United Nations Organization defines community development as “a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.”

Steps in Community Development

Community development can be broken down into some basic steps below which are either presented in a logical order or performed simultaneously.

  • Learning about the community: Learning about the community entails familiarizing with the services, events and projects within that community, listening to community members (through formal and or informal channels), and bringing people together to develop a shared vision. Listening to the community helps identify areas of common interest in making changes (developmental projects). Vocational training obtained in trades concerned with the developmental projects would be an invaluable tool in developing that community. Training can also be acquired in project planning which will serve the same developmental purpose. Bringing people together also boosts up the developmental process for example in a case where a community hall is identified as the project to execute, individuals that had earlier undergone vocational training in trades such as building, plumbing, carpentry, electrical works, welding and painting will all be of invaluable importance in the achievement of this project.
  • The succeeding steps in community development: These are accessing the community assets and resources, needs and issues, helping the community members recognize and articulate areas of concern and their causes, establishing a ‘vehicle for change’ (activities that the steering committee will need to undertake to ensure its planning, organization, implementation and evaluation of initiative).
  • Development and implementation of an action plan: This is the part which relies heavily on volunteers and community members of different vocational trades, mobilized to take action. The outcome of vocational trades is tested at this stage in the community development. The individuals are the bed rock of project execution at this implementation phase of community development, without which they will be no development project.

Seeing what community development is, the question “ How important vocational training is to community Development arises?

Vocational training focuses on the practical applications of the skills learned, and is generally unconcerned with theory or traditional academic skills. Vocational training thus seeks to bridge the gap between education and the professional or working world. Interestingly, decades ago, vocational training used to refer solely to fields and trades such as mechanics, building, welding, carpentry, electricians, radio and TV repairers etc., but today it ranges from all these hand trades to retail to tourism management. Vocational training basically creates innovative solutions that meet the challenges of communities, which subsequently build strong, equitable and sustainable communities through education, engagement and collaboration.

Studies in Bangladesh, Germany and Japan revealed that vocational training (training of skilled workers) is not only important for community development but is a force to reckon with even at the regional and national levels.

Comparison of employment patterns (% of workers in a given employment classification)

CATEGORY

BANGLADESH

GERMANY/JAPAN

Professional

2.2

4.5

Technician

1.8

16.7

Skilled worker

73

68.6

Unskilled

20

13

Source: GAZI MAHABUBUL ALAM, March 2008

Specifically this education or training is important as presented below:

  • Community development cannot be achieved without the input of vocational education or training and thereby prepare people for the job market. Endorse people with the necessary skill set to succeed in developing the community.
  • Vocational training most often prepares its students or apprentices for community development project by training skilled workers in domains necessary in the realisation of community development projects.
  • Vocational training further gives or enhances people skills and knowledge in job and trade conception and creation due to the certifiable knowledge in their respective desired fields.
  • This education is usually less expensive than standards schools such as medical school, business or law school hence making it more affordable for the “common man” or less privileged population.
  • Vocational training helps take children off the streets giving them an opportunity for self-sustainability and independence.
  • It brings about a diversity of skills and styles to enhance community development projects.
  • Vocational training boosts individual creativity thereby improving participatory roles in the socio-economic and cultural aspects of the community. Encourages the respect of one another promoting communal unity and solidarity
  • These training/education also improves and encourages positive awareness and change (socially, environmentally, economically, culturally, technically), equity, democracy, equality, health and ameliorate the quality of life within and around communities.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Vocational Training

Vocational training has its pros and cons relative to traditional colleges or degree programs. On one hand, the advantages of vocational training are: Shorter duration, the programs are shorter than typical college and degree programs. Students earn specialized certifications in a very short time. Generally, less money is invested in the entire education than it would have been with typical colleges or universities. There is more focused learning than at bachelor’s degree programs since the fewer classes allow students to branch into sub-topics.

On the other hand are disadvantages such as limited flexibility. Starting a vocational trade and reaching midway, say a student wishes to change their trade to a more suitable one, it will be almost impossible to continue without starting all over unlike in a typical university where students spend most of their first year doing general courses.

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