Dual Vocational Education Training in LatAm…Work in progress “muchachos”

By Apprenticeship Blog Contributor Pablo Denis..

Dual training does not only work in Europe, there are promising experiences in Latin America. Several countries on the continent have adapted or begun to adapt dual training to their own vocational training systems, i.e., middle secondary level, or in some cases, university level.


What are the key elements for successful transfer and adequate adaptation to the different socio-economic realities of the countries (outside the COVID context19 ) ?
The main challenges for the successful implementation of the dual vocational training system are mostly related to :

  • The image installed in many countries of the vocational training system (dual or classic); in many countries it is considered a lower level option in relation to university training. The myth collapses in the face of the need for specific technical skills sought by companies, as well as the so-called “soft skills
  • The lack of standards regarding the distribution of time spent in the company, which reflects a lack of understanding of the model by those responsible for designing the training, due to the academic approach that does not consider the participation of the company in the definition of dual training programs.
  • The ignorance of the vocational training center about the needs of the market and the disconnection between both; the coordination between actors through intermediary organizations or the state itself where possible, is a key point in the successful transfer.
  • The high professional profile required from the coordinator of the training courses; teacher preparation in didactics by experiences or situations.
  • In the European countries where the transfer is implemented, the great dependence on European funding funds. In Latin America the financing passes the willingness to invest of the companies or network of companies. The source of financing may come, in part, from international multilateral organizations (IADB, UNDP, etc.)
  • In general, it must be taken into account that this system is based on a methodical, long and intense “learn by doing” process, in which the learning of contents, knowledge and competences, both practical and theoretical, is developed mainly in real work contexts, where companies have an important and outstanding role without having any cost.
  • There is no standard training model for company tutors, nor a definition of their qualification profile; “good practices” from diverse experiences and the adaptation of successful models are an answer to the creation of a standard (we have done it in Uruguay, generated a training of trainers with elements of the same training in Germany, in Switzerland and specific elements of the Uruguayan identity)
  • The mistrust of companies towards this new model must be overcome by allowing their active participation in the definition of training plans. The Paraguayan example of the sector roundtables is very good. There, the enterprises suggest modifications, correct and validate the proposals.
    In Uruguay, we have done this with companies in the forestry sector (of Finnish origin, which are also familiar with the dual model)
  • The regulatory frameworks for vocational training in Latin America are very rigid, the fear of youth exploitation and abuse by employers sets limits that prevent training practices. Contract models should be made more flexible to allow greater access to the system for young people. The participation of unions as social actors is fundamental, not only to prevent abuses but also to defend compliance with apprenticeship training programs.
  • There is still no general recognition of professional training, which prevents educational continuity or the permeability of the system at higher levels of education.
  • Companies are calling for clearer rules on vocational training, as well as precise regulatory developments. For example, current Spanish legislation allows training to be developed differently in different regions and even within the same region. Thus, for example, the distribution between the time the trainee must be in the company and the training center, or even the total duration of the training is not the same.
  • The Latin American reality must attend two publics with different expectations: from non-formal education and labor reconversion for people to be reinstated or needing labor reconversion, and from formal education, to young people who do not opt for the academic university path for different reasons, among them the lack of interest in unattractive or too extensive careers, for reasons of need of quick labor solutions.

As a conclusion, there are different formats in terms of vocational training within the same training cycles. This may represent an obstacle to the implementation of such a system.

Countries in Latin America that have a dual modality to a greater or lesser degree: Mexico (university), El Salvador (secondary level), Costa Rica (secondary), Ecuador (university), Venezuela (private secondary through Swisscham), Colombia (university and secondary in progress), Peru (university and secondary), Chile (secondary), Brazil (secondary and some non-university tertiary), Paraguay (secondary, formal and non-formal), Argentina (non-university tertiary and secondary professional in only one province) and finally Uruguay …. in non-formal education and ..soon (we hope) in the formal non-university tertiary area.

Cordial greetings from Uruguay.

Apprenticeship Blog Contributor Pablo Denis..

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