For Yemen to move forward, the system of education should invest in vocational training to help Millennials compete in the modern world.

For Yemen to advance in the modern world, we must reinvent our education system. Primarily, this means we must invest in vocational training institutions to increase employment opportunities for the youngest members of our workforce. Illiteracy and poverty are twin evils of our nation, and they must be eradicated. One way to accomplish that is to provide real-world training that our students can use to acquire work in Yemen and throughout the region. How we get there requires closer cooperation between the public and private sectors to create demand-driven employment programs that would benefit the entire nation. That is, determine what jobs our country and region need and train accordingly.

A university curriculum isn’t always the answer. Instead, a curriculum focused on trades like electrical and construction would be welcome in an era of rebuilding. Learning improved farming techniques or water conversation, for instance, are skills that are in high demand. When we look at neighbors in the region, there are examples of the kind of investment that could propel Yemen.

In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the government runs the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), which encompasses about 240 training schools. Many are partnerships between the government and the industry firms that run the vocational schools. One example in Saudi Arabia is the Higher Institute for Plastics Fabrication. That’s where the workforce learns to make plastic bags, pipes and other products with skills they can use immediately.

There’s a time and place for university readiness. But for the present, Yemen’s education system must focus on skills that make coming generations properly trained for the most important jobs our country must fill.

~ Haitham Alaini