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The new coalition government of the UK on realization of the vocational educational crisis facing the country should embark on laying the strategies to deal with the crisis. The perceived crisis in vocational training has been characterized by several interlocking features, these include: the market place being viewed as key instrument in the delivery of appropriate training, the efforts of the government to devolve responsibility for training to employers and employees and the emphasis on the labor force as a key factor in economic success, training is increasingly being viewed in highly instrumental terms. Public education is seen as a failed instrument to provide appropriate education and training which meets employer's needs. As a result there has been a shift towards work based learning that address the mismatch between education training and training needs of the workforce. Employers are thus advised to take responsibility for funding and directly providing training. The work place has thus become sites of learning due to the government's failure to legislate ensuring that training does take place adequately in vocational training institutions adequately. This implies that the government has failed to provide relevant training to its citizens such that the product of the voluntary institutions does not fit in the job market. This is the crisis that the new coalition government should be aiming to address so as to restore the confidence of the employers in the graduates of vocational training institutions (House of common, 2009).
The crisis of the vocational education training are further exaggerated by increasing number of students, the unmet needs for buildings, shortage of academic staff, the pressure of the nature of education serve the industries and the demand that the graduates become more entrepreneurial. This expansion has been accompanied by qualitative shifts that have made the equality of education to go down. The industries require vocational education and training to revolve around the need for workforce that can cope with the changing environments. In addition a country's workforce is seen as a critical success factor in international competitiveness, and vocational education and training is seen as a crucial factor in the development of a multi-skilled workforce (McCollum, 1998). The involvement of the government, state organizations and other bodies is therefore vital in reforming vocational education in the UK as will be discussed in the paper.
State involvement in employees' development
Education and training are investments in human capital and they play major roles in economic growth and wealth creation. The prolonged decline of the UK economy was seen by scholars and policy makers to be resulting from poor education and training of the citizens. This can be reversed by offering quality education. The state has major roles to play in vocational education development which in turn leads to production of well trained employees for the industries. One of the major challenges facing the vocational training is lack of enough funding. The state through its arms should fund various programmes both at local and national level. Funding should enable such institutions to develop infrastructure and equip with facilities relevant for quality education. Funding should go further to paying handsomely the instructors and academicians involved so as to attract competitive trainers. Development of curriculum and introducing pedagogical reforms also require to be funded adequately and the state has the best machinery for this funding.
Youth training schemes (YTS) are also very important in addressing human capital problems. YTS are established with the intention of providing high quality programs of vocational preparation for its participants. It is seen as a solution in addressing Britain's long-standing failure in creating a high skilled labor force .YTS provides training that combines experience in the work place with off job training. These schemes can work effectively and uniformly if they are centrally controlled and the curriculum offered is nationally recognized, it's at this point that the role of state is emphasized. The state investment in YTS is thus very important in the development of human resource in any country (Furlong, 2001).
Organizational involvement in employees' development
Development of capabilities to perform future expected roles is also very important for growing organizations as well as those that expect substantial changes in the environment if future requiring employees to perform new roles. This can be achieved if the employees are well prepared in vocational training for future roles to avoid bringing their morale down as a result of external recruitment. Developing of employee as is also important if organizations have to recognize and use maximum possible potential of its employees. It's therefore important for organizations to train their employees and participate in providing relevant information to vocational training institutions on what the industry needs (Kumar & Ghosh, 2003).
Some organizations only invest in bare minimum training while other organizations encourage learning for its own sake and they enhance these through their personal development programmes e.g. Ford's motor company employee development and assistance programme enables employees to develop themselves. This programme should promote learning through development of learning skills and enhancement of employees' confidence levels. In addition to these the programmes enhances all employees' contributions to the firm so that their potential can be harnessed. These developments whether learnt in local college, on job or furthering education in higher institutes are investment to the organization. Although they may not have immediate benefits to the organizations nor fulfill any immediate training needs they are in long run beneficial to the organization. The issues of leadership, innovation and creativity are very critical in organizational success and they can only be achieved through investment in individual potential development and learning (Wilson, 2005).
Trade unions acknowledge the importance of vocational training and education qualifications in hedging of economic activities through the establishment of an occupational identity. Trade unions and employer organizations plays roles in defining vocational courses in Germany and Dutch apprenticeship systems and in formulating national vocational qualification standards. This noble role of trade unions in some OECD countries should be put in practice in UK so as to enhance the quality of education offered by voluntary educational institutions. This in turn supplies and maintains skilled workforce in the industries (Nijhoff, 2003).
Apart from the fore mentioned organizations there are other agencies which play important roles in the development of vocational education and training programmes. These organizations include the manufacturers' organization, professional bodies and civil society groups. Their role is to provide information to the training institutions on industrial needs. They also participate in development of the curriculums that guide in the training. These organizations also fund some programmes which are deemed important in the industry as well as sponsoring several activities such as workshops aimed at improving vocational education and training. Civil society organizations and religious organizations contribute to the whole development of an individual through social and ethics programmes. This ensure that the graduates of vocational institutions are not only professionally prepared but also socially. Development of employees is thus not only the role of the state or local governments but a process that involves the whole society since individuals can not be separated from the society.
Possibility of increased number of adult apprentices
In December 2004, Britain celebrated the attainment of national goal set there years earlier of 750,000 adult learners in life skills and 1.5 million adult learners in 2007. This commitment has been expanded to 2.25 million adults by 2010. This trend shows that UK government is highly committed to support adult apprentice programs so that it can be able to cater for its countries human resource needs. Going by the set trend the number is expected to rise in the subsequent years. This is as result of the growing population in the country leaving some careers with less staff. This phenomenon has necessitated for adult apprenticeship to rise despite the cost and challenges involved in training older people. Adult apprenticeship is undertaken not only by the governmental organization, but also by companies that feel that their workforce is declining day by day as employees leave due to death and attrition. For instance British Gas Company has been expanding it apprentice programs by recruiting more women and older workers. This is due to the shortage of staff it has been experiencing although it still runs a program for student aged17-23 years (Gordon, 2010).
Consequences of increased adult apprentices
Although adult apprenticeship scheme helps in reducing the labor shortages especially in countries which have a growing population like UK its costly than training young apprentices. For instance, Rolls-Royce an engineering firm in UK in 2006 had trained about 100 adult apprentices. It was realized that they are much more expensive to train than young apprentices because of differing level of government support. According to the company it costs around 60,000 pounds to deliver apprenticeship in engineering over three years, and although government funds around 14 000 pounds for 16-18 years olds this sum decreases for those over 18 years and for those over 25 years of age 9House of Commons, 2009).
The existence of the adult apprenticeships has developed in to bad habits where the there is re-badging the apprenticeship programme. The existing employees convert to apprenticeships even in cases where they are not qualified so as to pocket the benefits attached. Adult apprenticeship in some cases requires one to have theoretical knowledge and general education before joining such apprenticeship trainings; if one does have the general training they may have problems understanding some issues hence becoming quacks in their trade. It for this reason that adult apprenticeships ate advised to take the courses they understand easily given the fact that they also learn slowly.
As the situation requires older workers to be trained to address the shortage the workforce in the UK, the problem that arises is the rate at which older people learn. As it is said `you can't teach old dog new tricks'. Older people require extra care in their learning to master the skills not because their brains are less agile but because the time they take to get things right. Although they do not wish to lose face by performing badly and they thus tend to be more cautious in trying out new things. This means that it takes a lot of time to teach older people new experiences than the time taken to teach young adults. This is further explained by the types of intelligence that exist in different ages. While younger adults has fluid intelligence which enable them to see relationships even if they don't have prior experience older adults have crystallized intelligence which means that they learn by accumulation of experience. This explains the difference in the amount of time taken to teach older adults compared to young adults. Following this argument it's advisable that the government should invest heavily in vocational training and education of young adults so as to avoid the disadvantages related to adult training and apprenticeship (Rothwell, 2008).
As people get older they become prone to diseases which are related to their age. Most notably is Alzheimer which is a brain disorder that destroys brain cells creating problems with memory, thinking and behaviors. There are other factors that can affect people as they get older and they affect their learning abilities. Loss of memory and other mental abilities that interferes with daily life is caused by physical changes in the brain. These clearly show that adult apprenticeship may be faced by difficulties in learning new trades. The importance of vocational training and education of young adults is thus very vital in developing the work force of nation. In addition training through adult apprenticeship is not economical to the organizations or government since the skills gained are practiced for a shorter period until retirement of the employee, also older people have a high likelihood of dying than young employees.
The global future of adult apprenticeships
Despite the need to train more people to address the shortage of labor force in most developed countries the adult apprenticeship programs are not emphasized. This fact can be evidenced by the fact that funding for the adult apprenticeship programs is less compared to apprenticeship for adolescents and young adults in vocational training institutions. This is further expressed by the policy of the governments and organization to strengthen the vocational training institutions which admit adolescents or young adults rather than institutions that admit older people. This shows although adult apprenticeship is vital to address work force challenges it is in future not encouraged due to its uneconomical tendencies except in countries that have a growing population like Britain which has the policy on increasing adult apprenticeships by the end of the year 2013 to be more than three million. However, the workface of the future apprenticeship will become an increasingly important way for adults to improve themselves and change their careers. The role of the vocational education programs to train adult apprenticeships should thus be reconsidered in the context of the average age of a country's population (Great Britain House of Commons, 2009).
Vocational educational crisis facing the country should embark on laying the strategies to deal with the crisis. If these strategies are not put into consideration the UK government is likely to be faced with lack of confidence of the employers in the graduates of vocational training institutions. To counterbalance these in UK trade unions, state, organization and other agencies has come up with various strategies to curb this problem. This paper has outlined various role carried out y each organizational in its effort to come up with solution. The paper has also considered the possibilities of increased number of adult apprenticeship. The paper has clearly stated that in future adult apprenticeship will rise despite the cost and challenges involved in training older people. Adult apprenticeship is undertaken not only by the governmental organization but also by companies that feel that their workforce is declining day by day as employees leave due to death and attrition. The paper also addresses the consequences of increased adult apprenticeship and it is found that cost, time and difficulties of adult individual in learning as the major consequences that is likely to be faced by UK government.
Issues of global adult apprenticeship have also been addressed. The paper clearly shows that adult apprenticeship is vital to address work force challenges. It is in future not encouraged due to its uneconomical tendencies except in countries that have a growing population like Britain which has the policy on increasing adult apprenticeships by the end of the year 2013 to be more than three million. However, the workface of the future apprenticeship will become an increasingly important way for adults to improve themselves and change their careers.