There are millions of out of school youth who are unemployed or underemployed. This number increases per year.
Efforts are being made to both reduce the school leaving rate and to develop a non-formal education program which can meet some of the needs of this group.
However, these efforts at re-entry have had little short term effect. Multiple approaches to this problem are required and the TVET system must support and supplement existing efforts while in no way competing with them.
Two distinct problems must be overcome if TVET is to play a role. TVET, even at the technician and engineer level is not popular and does not attract trainees. Qualified applicants for higher education do not choose technology first but try for places in academic universities and teacher/trainer training institutions. Part of this, is the tradition of academic learning that predominates in many countries especially in Asia. Another contributing factor is the absence of information about the career opportunities and potential salary of TVET higher education graduates.
Changing public attitude is a very long term process. However, in many countries, this extended process has begun.
Another mechanism to attract applicants to the TVET higher education system is to find groups of potential students, who are not being served by the general education system and who have the intelligence and desire to follow careers in this area.
Each year, millions of students leave school early. Reasons for leaving school are varied. Some simply are not able to follow an academic curriculum. Others have no interest in school work. However, for many, families simply do not have sufficient money to support them in schools full time and they are needed to contribute to family revenue through helping with rice growing and animal care.
Perhaps, some find employment and most of the remainder support family based farming activities where they add little to the economy or to family income. Some come to the cities and take marginal jobs in the hope of earning enough money to attend private training institutions to acquire language and computer skills for improved employment, but only a very small number can achieve this.
Once a student has become a school leaver, in most countries, it is very difficult both socially and academically to re-renter. Typically, general education concentrates on those who are able to stay in school.
Those who leave school have, for all practical purposes completed their formal education and regardless of desire or intellect, are excluded from any further recognised learning. They certainly have lost any chance of higher education within the public sector.
Yet, for a number of these school leavers, mastering the skills and knowledge required for entry into higher education is possible, if they can learn part time and work with their families. Some of these young people may be among the most gifted learners in the country and, if given an opportunity, they could become exceptional technicians and engineers.