“There is a need to align technical education curriculum and competencies to take advantage of the upcoming new jobs and opportunities,” said Prof. G. L. D. Wickramasinghe, Director General, CPSC, Manila, Philippines, while talking about the need to enhance the global competitiveness of TVET.
Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC) is a one-of-a-kind Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO) that addresses challenges in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Asia and the Pacific region. CPSC has been actively promoting human resources development in the region for more than four decades.
To learn more about the initiatives taken and the significant role played by CPSC in enhancing the global competitiveness of TVET, the importance of digitalization in teaching, and more we conversed with Prof. G. L. D. Wickramasinghe, Director General, CPSC, Manila, Philippines.
Below are a few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video interview on our YouTube channel.
Establishment of the Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC)
“The Colombo Plan Staff College was established in Singapore. An independent, specialized agency for the Colombo Plan Staff College was founded in 1973, and the Republic of Singapore was the first country to establish it. CPSC relocated to Manila, Philippines, in 1987 with an invitation from the Philippine government.
In total, there are 26 member countries of the CPSC, and there are now 16 active and 12 charter members. We also have several new members at the Colombo Plan Staff College who have requested to join CPSC.
The Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission is another division that we have (APACC). Therefore, as part of the CPSC, we essentially accredit TVET institutions; this is done for the CPSC’s quality assurance system,” said Prof. G. L. D. Wickramasinghe.
Role of the CPSC in training and staff development
While talking about the role of the CPSC in training and staff development, Prof. G. L. D. Wickramasinghe said, “As mandated, the scope of CPSC is to develop staff through our staff development programs.” This is crucial since it is challenging to execute the initiatives in the TVET system for the students without the faculty’s understanding and support. We conduct numerous programs and provide training in support of Sustainable Development Goals. We recently held a regional program with participation from all of our member nations, where CPSC Singapore presented a program on gaining TVET for sustainable development.”
Various programs conducted by CPSC
“We create leadership programs and programs on sustainable energy for teachers and lecturers. Additionally, we also conduct programs on a list of topics and member countries can also request us to conduct programs on specific subjects like sustainability.
As part of the Busan Foundation for International Cooperation (BFIC) program in South Korea, we conducted a program on sustainable city development in Busan on smart transportation. We invited all CPSC member nations to participate in a couple of online programmes, with a physical program to follow,” stated Prof. G. L. D. Wickramasinghe.
Digitalization in teaching
Digital technologies are evolving quickly and changing not only technical education but also how individuals work, learn, and even live their daily lives.
Prof. G. L. D. Wickramasinghe expressed, “It is important that our TVET education or technical education systems adopt a digital teaching approach. Because we cannot continue with the same teaching pedagogy. With this new digitalization and the technology advances, there are many options to make the teaching different and better”.
The importance of digital skills and digitalization in education
Industry 4.0: Digital skills and digitalization are necessary for Industry 4.0 adherence because of many new systems and procedures.
Education: Moving to platform learning is important in education. There are several online learning platforms available for people to complete their education.
Initiatives and programs from CPSC
“Singapore acted as our digitalization model. They are ranked second in the world for the best talent, right after the USA. Therefore, we organised a program in Singapore for all of our member nations, and they shared their best practices and ways of coping up with digitalization. When we visited their lab, we could see how advanced they are in today’s world of technology,” stated Prof. Wickramasinghe.
Challenges of making vocational education aspirational
“Since vocational education and training is not typically a first choice for people in most countries, TVET has to be positioned accordingly in the education system. There are various challenges as everyone strives to attend prestigious universities and polytechnics, while the rest who cannot go to such universities pursue TVET education. So, that way of thinking needs to change,” noted Prof. G. L. D. Wickramasinghe.
There are three things to keep in mind to make vocational education aspirational. They are,
- Reputation and positioning of vocational education – Important to bridge the gap between graduates from regular universities and graduates from vocational institutions.
- Industry relevance – Making the vocational education industry relevant by upgrading the curriculum to meet the industry demands.
- Job opportunities – Government and industry leaders should create initiatives to provide sufficient job opportunities.