Panel eyes new schools for vocational education

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A key government panel on education suggested Monday the establishment of a new category of school that will attach primary importance to practical vocational training for high school graduates.

The idea was suggested by the Central Council for Education as a measure to broaden the range of career choices for high school graduates and reduce the high rate of young people leaving employment.

The move reflects public concern over the increasing number of part-time job hoppers and NEETs, a term that refers to young people not in education, employment or training.

On Monday, a special committee of the panel to the education, science and technology minister compiled the draft of a report on the vocational independence of young people.

The report states that the new schools will create a new category of educational body in addition to universities and vocational colleges.

Under the current system, vocational colleges are given a considerable measure of freedom in devising their educational programs. But unlike these colleges, the envisaged schools are supposed to set up programs roughly in line with state-controlled standards.

The new schools would teach students a wide array of skills to prepare them to become full-fledged members of society and/or business professionals, allocating 40 to 50 percent of the curriculum to practical work and training. In addition, internships would be a mandatory part of the courses.

However, many issues still need to be discussed before the plans can be put into action.

For example, the panel has been indecisive about the duration of courses at the new schools, stating it should last from two to three years, or at least four years. Digital content creation and computer software-related engineering courses have been floated as ideas to be included in the new schools’ curriculums.

According to the education ministry, about 50,000 people who graduated from high school last academic year did not proceed to higher education or employment after graduating.

Meanwhile, a survey shows that 50 percent of people who started work after graduating resigned within three years.

According to educational experts, current vocational education at high schools is ineffective, which is one of the reasons for the increase of NEETs and part-time job-hoppers, widely known as freeters.

The government has been urged to improve vocational education at high schools to try to counter this trend.

(Jul. 1, 2009) Daily Yomiuri

Jul. 1, 2009

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