I couldn’t agree with Des more. In Germany, they have the dual system which is similar to what he is advocating, however with notable differences. No student is self-enrolled at a vocational college. The employer enrols an employee onto a programme (not necessarily technical; it could be hospitality or tourism or even business administration) which is usually in the form of an apprenticeship. The training is usually 3 years long. The employee pays nothing, but receives a salary from the employer. The training is paid for by the government and by the province.
Each employer is registered with a Chamber to whom he/she pays fees. The Chamber assists with the recruitment and enrolment of the student and the filling of a class for the training. Each company must have a master craftsman on its staff. Only a Master Craftsmen with teacher training may teach at vocational colleges.
What does the employer get out of it? Custom-designed, industry-driven holistic education and training. Employers regard it as their national duty to see to it that the youth are trained to be productive. It’s all about productivity and not about incentives. They do it out of patriotism.
Vocational colleges have no disciplinary problems. If the student absconds or delivers poor work, the principal reports it to the Chamber, which reports it to the employer, and the student is confronted by his/her employer: shape up or get out.
Do our students have the necessary work ethic for something like this to work? Granted, in Germany, there are dwindling numbers of young people and an ageing population and more jobs available than job-seekers. But still. If we could link our students to jobs, get the employers to take on these students for the sake of our country and enrol them at our FETs, just think how much better of we, and the country, would be!