(MENAFN - Jordan Times) If the statement in the headline was correct, we then have a very deep ironic situation before us. The Vocational Training Corporation (VTC) has historically struggled with its "negative image", ensuing from the fact that it embraces the most desperate, underprivileged and lowest-achieving basic school leavers who find no other alternative to make something out of themselves. Yet, this is exactly the segment of youth that needs the most attention, simply because if left to the streets, they become ticking bombs and easy targets for extremists, drug dealers and other outlaws.
This is not to say that VTC is appealing to all these youngsters, as only 13 per cent of students opt for vocational and technical training, including regular secondary school technical education, while the majority, mostly encouraged by society and parents, seek academic degrees, which explains the 375,000 job applications piled at the Civil Service Bureau. Recently, His Majesty King Abdullah underlined during a meeting with tribal leaders the need to change the younger generation's attitude towards vocational and technical education, and urged parents to help promote the idea among their children, especially since graduates of academic programmes find no jobs and if they do, their peers who complete technical and vocational training make more money than they do.
With around a JD14 million budget, 85 per cent of which goes to cover running costs, the VTC is helpless. It needs to incentivise young people to enrol in one of its 103 programmes provided in 43 institutes that house 338 workshops.
What the agency needs is a few millions more to attract more students, especially from remote areas, through offering them free education, pocket money and transportation cost. With this, coupled with the success of VTC in its employment programmes (It has already signed deals to train and recruit around 5,000 graduates in partnership with the private sector), the state-run organisation will contribute significantly to addressing the two other major challenges: unemployment and poverty.
The agency, for the ones who have insight into its operation, has much more to offer if it is given a free hand to operate without the limitations imposed by bureaucracy. As Jordan is bracing for huge investments from India and China, let alone the Saudi futuristic NEOM project, if these materialise, the VTC would be the government's efficient arm to prepare technicians and skilled workers to man these projects.
A tip for decision makers and planners: Embrace VTC, sustain and empower it. You can start by listening to what people there have to say.
The writer is the deputy chief editor of The Jordan Times