Ovec targets trade, general student parity in 5 years
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Ovec targets trade, general student parity in 5 years

The Office of the Vocational Education Commission (Ovec) is optimistic that it will reach its goal of having an equal ratio of vocational students to general studies students within five years.

Ovec secretary-general, Suthep Chittayawong, said yesterday the number of students who choose to pursue vocational studies after graduating from junior high school has spiked in recent years because of changing attitudes towards technical education among Thai students.

"In the past, vocational students were perceived as inferior to university students," he said.

Mr Suthep said that in 2016, only 31% of students chose to pursue vocational studies, but the numbers climbed to 36% and 40% in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

"The figure is likely to reach 45% by the end of this year," he said.

Mr Suthep attributed the increases to the government's efforts to promote and improve the image of vocational education among Thai youth.

He said that over the years, Ovec has launched several initiatives to promote vocational studies by improving the curriculum and increasing participation by the private sector.

One example is the "Tawisuksa" project, which allows students to take up technical courses parallel to their general subjects, which Mr Suthep said has helped attract students to take up vocational studies as participants are given both academic and technical certifications upon graduating.

Another example is the "dual" education system that combines theoretical studies at vocational schools and apprenticeships with private companies in one course.

"To graduate, students have to spend at least a year to put the theories into practice with private companies," he said.

While Mr Suthep admitted that certain prejudices toward vocational education remain an issue, he said the situation is improving as both parents and students are beginning to realise that the demand for skilled workers continues to soar in the modern job market.

"Technologies are also changing the way students think," he said. "These days, many students don't want to spend four years in universities to learn subjects they don't need."

If the trend continues, said Mr Suthep, the ratio of vocational to general studies students is likely to reach 50:50 by 2024.

According to Ovec, more than 300,000 students have signed up for vocational studies in this academic year.

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