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Career Colleges and Vocational Schools in Uruguay

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About Career Colleges and Vocational Schools in Uruguay

Like many of its neighbors in South America, Uruguay has lately been involved in a process of significantly expanding its offerings in the area of vocational training. As South American nations work to develop their economic and political systems, the importance of vocational training is perfectly clear. Today, as these programs enter their second and in some cases third decade, many countries are undergoing a process of evaluation to determine whether or not the new programs have done the work they were designed to do: are students receiving the training they need to succeed in a global job market? Are the programs reliable and have established norms of quality been met? Are the programs cost effective? Uruguay, no less than its neighbors, has been asking these difficult questions and, fortunately, the answers are generally positive.

For many Uruguayan students, vocational training begins in high school. The nation’s secondary school system is split into two tracks, one academic and one technical, so students choose which type of learning they feel will benefit them the most for their final 3 years of secondary school. The academic track is generally geared toward getting students into traditional colleges and helping them to succeed in professional fields such as law, medicine, and civil service. Technical secondary schooling, on the other hand, is designed to provide students with the skills they need to succeed immediately, without further training.

Unfortunately, vocational training has suffered from its general lack of prestige in Uruguayan society. Most students choose the academic track over the technical track in high school, and most who are able to do so choose to go to college rather than vocational training after they graduate. Even within colleges and universities, Uruguayan students strongly prefer high-prestige majors such as medicine and law, despite the fact that there are very few jobs in these areas available. The result is that Uruguay currently has a shortage of skilled workers such as plumbers, electricians, and agricultural workers, while its highly-trained college graduates often leave the country to pursue opportunities elsewhere. This has created a challenge for many career colleges and vocational schools in Uruguay, which have had a difficult time finding qualified instructors and attracting students.

As Uruguay moves forward into the 21st century, it is certain that career colleges and vocational training programs will play an important role in the nation’s economy. The reforms of the 1990s and early 2000s laid an important foundation for future growth – the challenge now is to nurture that foundation and help the country as a whole develop a self-sustaining cycle of high-quality training and economic prosperity.