Why Ukraine invests in vocational schools and reduces universities?

Author : Yulia Serheyeva

Source : 112 Ukraine

The labor market is critically short of qualified workers, whom employers are willing to pay well. At the same time, over the past 15 years, the number of vocational schools in the country has decreased by almost 1.5 times, and only 20% of school graduates enter such institutions
22:45, 28 July 2021

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The officials of the Ministry of Education and Science, together with the deputies, are preparing legislative changes, in connection with which the vocational schools will have to modernize. At the same time, the ministry plans to reduce some of the higher educational institutions by merging them.

We have visited vocational schools and found out why they need support from the state more than universities.

Specialists are ready to pay 30-40 thousand per month
The demand for professional technical specialists remains high, despite the coronavirus pandemic and the deteriorating financial and economic situation in the country.

The Ministry of Education and Science, in a comment to, stressed that in 2020, employers informed employment centers about the availability of 830 thousand vacancies. The greatest demand among employers is for maintenance workers, equipment operation - such specialists account for every fourth vacancy. This is a driver, turner, gas station operator, tractor driver, excavator operator, boiler operator, milling machine operator and road worker.

The number of vacancies for workers in trade and services is 15% of the total. Exactly the same number as for skilled workers with tools, such as a seamstress, electrician, electric gas welder, locksmith, track fitter, bricklayer, etc.

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Over the past 10 years, more than 260 vocational education institutions have been closed. The number of those wishing to study in vocational schools is decreasing every year. 

Despite the large number of vacancies, attractive salaries and opening prospects, graduates are in no hurry to get an education in vocational schools. The press service of the Ministry of Education and Science explained that the main reason for the decrease in the number of applicants to professional technical equipment was the low attractiveness and prestige of such education in society. The ministry noted that the negative image of vocational education was formed by both the lack of necessary investments in the modernization of institutions and the low threshold of accessibility of higher education. In addition, a significant factor was the mismatch between supply and demand, the quality of training and the needs of the labor market for professional qualifications.

We will return to this later. First, let's talk about investment in modernization.

The Kyiv Higher Vocational School of Railway Transport named after Kudryashov faced the problem of underfunding. Future locksmiths and machinists work with 25-year-old equipment from Soviet times, some of which have not been working for a long time. And for the specialty "carpenter" it was necessary to completely stop recruiting students due to the impossibility of providing conditions for training.
Classes in the carpentry shop, due to its emergency state, have not been held at all for ten years.
Larysa Polishchuk, acting director of the Kiev Higher Professional School of Railway Transport, told that the city government allocates money only to pay for utilities. The rest falls on the shoulders of the educational institution.

"We ourselves are responsible for everything related to plumbing issues, repairs and so on. This also includes the purchase of equipment and equipment. Now we need laptops, but getting them is very problematic. It was especially difficult during distance learning, since not everyone has children have a connection, and most of them are not provided with technology," said Larysa Polishchuk.

At the same time, the equipment that is provided to the institution, according to Polishchuk, is also not always in working order.

Related: Ministry of Education tells where Presidential University to be built

Professionals can earn money by opening additional paid courses, but this requires a license. To obtain it, you need to provide an entrance with a ramp for wheelchairs, the construction of which will cost approximately 80 thousand hryvnia. This is despite the fact that the school cannot teach people with disabilities due to the specifics of the profession.

There is also a problem with the financing of the hostel, which provides professional tech to everyone free of charge. The state does not allocate money for its maintenance.

There has not been a major overhaul of the kitchen for 15 years: it requires about a hundred thousand hryvnias, which the educational institution does not have. Household appliances are also in short supply.

112 Agency

Since the state is in no hurry to invest in vocational schools, private companies, which understand the importance of training high-quality specialists, not only help young workers with employment, but also finance the modernization of vocational equipment.

For example, the Educational and Scientific Center for Vocational Education of the National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine receives equipment for diagnostics and car repairs from private companies, as well as various models.

112 Agency

The state realizes the problem of underfunding of trade goods and promises to fix it. In response to a request from, the Ministry of Education and Science replied that the 2021 budget allocated 5,5 million USD for the purchase of new technology and equipment for training.

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The new bill, which is being prepared in the Ministry of Education and Science, also involves the modernization of professional tech. However, their financing is planned to be transferred to local budgets. Whether in this case there will be enough funds for a full update is unknown.

But the problems of professional tech are not limited to finances. A more significant flaw is the lack of consistency between production and education. According to the law, if there are less than 24 people interested in a certain specialty, the group simply will not open.

"A child comes to us and says that he wants to be a conductor, the other wants to be a cashier. 10 people came to the guides, 1 to cashiers. Together - 25 people. We offer them to switch to some other profession so that they can open group," says Polishchuk.

At the same time, the number of specialists trained by the state often does not meet the needs of the market. In order for the state to prepare five people for the employer, it is necessary to open a group of 30.

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The inconsistency of the educational law with the industrial sphere often leads to the fact that graduates do not use the acquired knowledge. Instead, they move to work in other spheres that do not require special education, or they go abroad. Although schools provide for the employment of specialists at enterprises after graduation, often such "work" is just a formality.

"Graduates quit in a month to serve the formality. The company does not benefit from this, on the contrary, it incurs losses. Contracts with employers for a certain number of years are not signed. Now we only offer vacancies, because we have signed contracts for training with certain companies. However, we cannot force people to work in their specialty," added Larysa Polishchuk.

Homenyuk also insists on the need to conclude bilateral agreements between enterprises and future specialists.

Related: World Bank to provide $200 million-aid to Ukraine for higher education

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