10 Management Tips for TVET Leaders
Stop looking in the rearview mirror. Leave the past to archaeologists and anthropologists. Lead Change. Drive change. Help people adapt to change.
Be the change you want them to become (Ghandi).
Push yourself to try the unfamiliar. Do the things you are not quite prepared to do. Add value through innovation. Look at things with new eyes. Keep learning new things...be curious.
Effective leadership is the most important single input to TVET management, as shown repeatedly in International development. Scruffy facilities, inadequate equipment, weak teachers, yet the school getting better. The leader is the Number 1 factor.
10 Tips for TVET Managers to Becoming Effective Leaders:
1. Learning and market operations can be integrated, especially in places where self-employment is more likely than a traditional job.
One TVET leader told me once that the first thing he does when assigned to a new place is to study the data. He surveys the needs of the industry and the community and talks with employers and community leaders to determine the gaps and opportunities. Based on these market data, he organizes learning in the institution.
2. Given government funding, a TVET institution without a significant non- government revenue stream is going to cease operations in any real sense. TVET is expensive and needs constant adaptation of its facilities to the needs of the market. Where is the revenue?
3. To create this new revenue stream, the institution usually must have a service or product it can sell. It can't sell outdated curriculum, irrelevant courses, teachers who have academic degrees with no industry experience and facilities that industry no longer use.
It's time for imagination and leadership. If it has a standout course, just one to start with, that leads to employment, the students will come flocking.
4. There must be incentives to convince staff to develop such a standout course. Directives will NOT work. This reality is especially true in public institutions where leaders cannot fire or make the teachers or employees accountable.
Nobody will be interested in spending time or even doing more work than is necessary. Often, some of the staff have jobs outside of their regular TVET government occupation. Time means money, and not luxury money, just family food. Fees revenue MUST be shared.
5. The institution must have a buyer who is a customer, client, and/or a student to sell the service or product. If TVET leaders and practitioners stay in their institutions and do not link with industry, they will not be able to develop courses that will attract students who will only pay for classes that get them jobs. Leadership is getting out there and digging! This failure to offer relevant courses needed by the clients is the main reason why today, online courses are thriving, and TVET institutions are empty of students.
6. It is the institution's challenge to find the customer, determine what they want, and then build the course to the customer's standards.
Many public TVET institutions are empty though they offer courses for free. On the other hand, there are many fee-paying institutions with full classrooms. The students (their clients) find their courses relevant to employment. Think of students and clients, and they will come and willingly pay for real benefits.
7. It is the institution's obligation to make sure that each customer is so happy about working with or learning in the institution that they will not only ask for more services but will also recommend it to their friends and associates.
8. The employer's (Government) obligation is to give the Senior Administrator sufficient freedom to act so that she can respond to the market with the services and products that the market wants. A Board Governance structure can be helpful over time. The employer may also be industry, NGO, or private owners.
9. It is also crucial that Governments leave most of the fees income in the institutions so that it can use these to achieve the institutions' goals, which is to respond to their market and be an incentive for action.
10. TVET leaders in public institutions must understand their strategic role in their country's economic development by ensuring that the workforce has the skills to attract investment.
Therefore, they must have a Vision of their country's future and the role TVET can play in this and rally their staff to commit to this Vision.
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