Worldwide, recognition is growing that vocational education must be improved as jobs become more highly skilled.
In the UK, the CBI has said that in order to tackle the skills shortage, more young people must be encouraged to take up apprenticeships or read degrees that include practical work experience. It has called for a university admissions-style system for vocational courses.
In India, the government has set itself an ambitious target to train 500 million members of its workforce in recognised skills by 2022. About 90 per cent of its workforce has had no vocational training.
In the latest of its Skills Beyond School reviews, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development focused on the US and found that the country is facing a "major skills challenge".
Although the US used to educate more young people to post-secondary level than almost any other country, it has now dropped down the international rankings. Forty-two per cent of its younger adults (aged 25-34 in 2010) have tertiary qualifications, a figure bettered by 12 other OECD countries.
Around the world
Percentage of countries' workforces receiving skills training in 2008
Source: Knowledge paper on skill development in India: Learner First (2012), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. bit.lySkillsFICCI
South Korea: 96%
In the US
By 2018, it is predicted that
62% of all employment in the US will require post-secondary education of some kind, including certificates and associate (foundation) degrees
Source: Carnevale, AP (2010), Postsecondary Training and Education As We Know It Is Not Enough. bit.lyPostSecondary
The World Bank has lent a total of $110m (#163;71 million) to Guangdong, Yunnan, Liaoning and Shandong provinces to help improve the quality and relevance of technical and vocational education and training in about 20 secondary and tertiary institutions
Source: World Bank. bit.lyWorldBankChina.