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Of Transferable Skills, Teachers and TVET

In an increasingly changing and globalised world, acquiring literacy and numeracy alone is not enough to land a good job. Now more than ever, employers highly value workers who possess a range of transferable skills.

The 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report, with the theme Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work, defines transferable skills as "the ability to solve problems, communicate ideas and information effectively, be creative, show leadership and conscientiousness, and demonstrate entrepreneurial capabilities these skills are required for young people to be able to adapt to different and changing work and life environments."

A sad reality however is that many employers bemoan the lack of transferable skills in young workers. In the Philippines, for instance, employers report strong demand but lack of supply for attributes such as creativity, initiative, leadership and ability to work independently (EFA GMR, 2012).

While strong foundation and technical and vocational skills are still very much sought by employers, transferable skills are becoming more critical in the workplace as young people need to possess the confidence to face the world of work, adapt their skills from one workplace to another and keep up with changing technologies, different work environments and the demands of a 'green economy'. These skills can also help many young people working in the informal sector in poor countries to become successful entrepreneurs.

These 'transferable skills' are not taught from a textbook, but can be acquired through good quality education. As such, there now exists a pressing need to upgrade TVET teacher development and vocational teacher education (VTE) programmes. With the changing demands of the world of work, there is likewise a need for the role of TVET teachers to shift from merely transmitting TVET knowledge and skills to facilitating the development of transferable skills in students to enable them to adapt to rapid changes in the job market.

Such needs are also clearly acknowledged by key TVET teacher training partners, as stated in the Thanyaburi Statement which was co-signed by 7 institutions/organizations/ networks in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Given that recruitment and retention of high-quality TVET teachers is already a challenge in many countries of the Asia-Pacific region, this emerging need for the integration of transferable skills in TVET programs is adding further complexity to TVET teacher policies.

With this rationale in mind, UNESCO Bangkok is in the early stages of coordinating a joint regional study that aims to review and appraise the degree of integration of transferable skills in TVET policies and, in particular, its impact on TVET teacher policies. The study will also develop policy recommendations to improve TVET teacher policies.

Proposed data collection and analysis methods include: (1) review of policy documents (e.g., the Constitution, national development plans, education sector plans, education laws and other policies), curriculum framework and related instruments; (2) stakeholder interviews; and (3) survey questionnaires.

Once the research framework is finalised and participating partners are confirmed, further details regarding the study will be shared on this website.

For more information, please contact Satoko Yano [s.yano(at)] or Mary Anne Therese Manuson [m.manuson(at)] at the Education Policy and Reform Unit

Written by Mary Anne Therese Manuson [m.manuson(at)] 

Related Links:

• EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012

• Technical and Vocational Education and Training