In most developing countries, parents and high school graduates would rather have gum surgery than attend a TVET institution. Trying to convince the majority of these families that most universities lead to idle stagnation of the graduates and TVET leads to employment and a career is a waste of energy.
The issue is not logic. The issue is culture-family prestige. And yet, in most developing countries is a massive group of highly motivated teens who would give a right arm for a chance to become technicians, technologists or applied engineers.
In many emerging economies, out of school youth left early not because of their own motivation, intelligence or capacity to learn. They left because their parents had no money to pay the incentives required by teachers to get the learning materials or because they were needed at home to help out in the farm or help their father or uncle with the street store.
These millions of young people don't have time to go back to school and there is often no provision for them to get back into the education system, 18 year olds can't and won't sit in the same classroom as the 12 year olds. Besides, the way they learn has changed completely and the education cycle based on maturation of children just doesn't make sense.
With the helf of ADB Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, Cambodia's Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training started a skills bridging program in which they looked at the academic skills that new students really need to have to be successful at a Level 1 Certificate program in TVET. The academic subjects looked into are Math, Science and Language.
Learning materials were designed to get these out of school youth from where they were (minimum Grade 7) up to those skills. Over 7 months with 168 hours of tutoring in their own villages, over 70% of them got to the entry standard and more than half registered in the programs of the TVET Colleges.
What about the other half? With their new competence in Language and Math, they got jobs in industry or tourism at salaries they never could have dreamt of before.
What this project discovered is a whole new population of young people who would become highly motivated TVET graduates proud of their skills and boastful in their communities of what they've achieved. And once into the TVET Colleges, these students can go full time or part time to diplomas or degrees.
Technology needs the best and the brightest and you'll find few of these among the remnants of secondary school graduates who applied but failed to get into universities.