"I decided to study when I was almost thirty years old because I had not been able to develop my skills before then. I decided to start even though I was one of the oldest in my gastronomy classes," says Julieta Pulgar, a student at ISEPT Tertiary Institute of Bariloche. "Before then, I had no possibility of a job. Now I work two jobs thanks to my time at school, which gave me the right tools I needed to be where I am today."
We generally have little knowledge of what's being offered by non-university forms of higher education in Argentina. Students are unaware, as is the socio-productive sector. A clear example of this is the growing demand for trained professionals in the technology industry and a lack of talent manifesting itself within the sector. However, it is not necessarily a lack of resources, but rather, a case of ignorance and poor coordination between actors. According to Sebastian Biagini, manager of Red Hat, one of the leading companies for open source tech solutions, in a recent interview with El Cronista he stated that, "It is not only a lack of graduates in careers in engineering or science, but also a lack of other academic alternatives, such as technical schools or short term technical programs."
But what happens in the majority of developed countries? Tertiary education is a valuable and prestigious post-secondary alternative, with concrete employment opportunities and income sources very attractive for many young people and adults. Polytechnic and community colleges, whether technical or humanistic, prepare students with the skills necessary for careers in a dynamic and uncertain world in which constant updating is essential.
At the same time, young people and adults around the world are increasingly seeking out these options to help them acquire the skills and competencies necessary so that they can be flexible within today's burden of time. These skills can offer people rapid job prospects, specifically in connection with the labor demand of the socio-productive sector. In short, these work training options will become more suitable for the global world of skills and knowledge over the coming decades.
In our country we have over a thousand tertiary institutions, both public and private, that provide diverse specialties; from tourism, hotel services, and gastronomy, to Nursing, Health-Safety, the environment, electro mechanics, and aeronautics. However, only a minority of students benefit from these programs at the same that, as evidenced from a study conducted by INET, "Capacities 2020," there is a growing demand for more people with qualified technical backgrounds; from professional nurses and systems analysts, to technical managers for SMEs.
Against this backdrop, we are coordinating between INET and the provincial education ministry, an awareness campaign on the wide range of non-university higher education options and the benefits they offer for students. We are calling on tertiary students and graduates from all provinces to publicize their life story through video testimonials, so that they can describe how their journey through tertiary institutions opened the doors to their current job. The stories of Andrés Urzagasti, a systems analyst in Santa Fe, Ramón Casas, a technical management for SMEs farming in La Rioja, or Lidia Aranzana, a nursing student in Miramar, are poignant and encouraging. They show the great potential of tertiary courses.
From INET, we have made a great deal of progress, in coordination with all provincial ministries and education levels, in some key steps toward the revaluing of non-university higher education and in adapting to the new realities and needs of students in the 21st century. We believe that these measures will not only provide students with information and statistical data showcasing the demand for their desired career path by the socio-productive sector, but also give them the valuable experience of hearing real life stories from current and former students within tertiary education; to act as a potential base for their own personal and professional development.