The study tour was specifically tailored for policymakers, technocrats and practitioners involved in shaping educational TVET policies and initiatives. Through the tour, delegates were able to obtain a deeper understanding of a practice-oriented approach to TVET and its incorporation into the education systems in Germany and the Netherlands, which both have world-leading TVET systems.
The leading objective of the study tour was to contribute to the socio-economic advancement of the OECS through a quality education system that enables learners of all ages to reach their fullest potential, in alignment with the OECS Strategic Priorities to advance equity and inclusion as well as reinvent the economy i.e., contribute to the transformation of the OECS' economies to become globally competitive. This activity contributes to the OECS-Education Sector Strategy 2012-2026: Strategic Imperative VII: Provide opportunities for all learners in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and aligns with the OECS Declaration on Education.
The study tour provided delegates with the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with trainees and employers in order to learn about their perspectives of the Dual System which combines classroom education with hands-on apprenticeship. The delegates visited training centres, schools and enterprises and were able to study the roles of different public and private actors of TVET systems as well as gain insight into the rights, responsibilities and challenges of actors and stakeholders. Moreover, they were able to discuss various aspects of TVET in particular the financing of TVET with relevant stakeholders and identify challenges and opportunities for TVET policy development, at the national and regional (OECS) level.
Reflecting on the study tour, Senator, the Honourable David E. Andrew, Minister for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture with responsibility for Education, Grenada stated:
"The understanding of the TVET system in Germany and the Netherlands brings great enlightenment. TVET is not a second tier option in education. It responds to and is driven by the labour market. It needs to be more prominently featured in our system. With shared challenges in terms of lack of resources, small population and land space, the OECS has an excellent opportunity to meaningfully collaborate in the development of our TVET programmes, systems and strategies across the region."
Also offering insights on the visit, the Honourable Curtis King Minister of Education and Reconciliation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines noted:
"This was a tremendous experience. We were afforded opportunities for sharing ideas, best practices, and establishing contacts for future networking initiatives."
Mrs. Sisera Simon, Head of the Human and Social Division, OECS Commission, and a member of the delegation, remarked:
"TVET will continue to be a priority for the OECS Commission and a critical next step is developing a broad roadmap for TVET with the support of Member States and development partners. "
Ms. Ashma Mc Dougall, a youth representative from the Commonwealth of Dominica and a youth delegate on the tour observed that:
"This visit has provided an anchor of hope of how the transformation of our TVET structure can contribute to positive outcomes for youth across the OECS region."
Additionally, in summarizing the learnings for the TVET study tour and what is required for a shift in the Mindset to TVET in the OECS, Programme Manager (Education) Communications Coordinator -Delegation of the European Union, Dr. Stephen Boyce describes six A's for creating a new TVET experience in the region: attractiveness, autonomy, allocation, accountability, ambition and accessibility.
Upon return to the region the Ministers and their technical officers are expected to develop a realistic county-level action plan for implementation of a selected practice observed from the tour.
The returning delegates will also form a Regional TVET Think Tank and maintain a Community of Practice to continue to share and exchange knowledge and best practices.
Additionally, it is expected that the TVET participants from the region will develop realistic, country-level action plans based on the TVET practices in Europe for implementation within the next six (6) months.
Key Highlights of the Study Tour:
Discovery of the German Dual System: Exposure to the renowned German Dual System, a highly acclaimed model that combines classroom education with hands-on apprenticeships. Participants witnessed first-hand how this system fosters seamless transitions from education to employment and learned how to adapt its principles to the OECS context.
Dutch Innovations in TVET: Exposure to the cutting-edge innovations in TVET from the Netherlands. Participants visited state-of-the-art training centres and learned about their progressive approaches to skills development, such as industry-driven curriculum design and strong collaboration between educational institutions and employers.
Engagement with Industry Experts: Participants gained insights into effective governance, quality assurance, and employer engagement to enhance the TVET ecosystem in the OECS.
Networking Opportunities: OECS participants had the opportunity to build valuable connections with their European counterparts, strengthen collaborations, foster knowledge exchange, and explore potential partnerships to drive TVET advancements in the OECS.
Cultural Immersion: Guided city tours and networking dinners helped to contextualise the European experience.