The rate of school dropouts reached an 11-year high in 2016 according to an unpublished study prepared by the Ministry for National Economy, Népszava reports. Moreover, reforms are not working, despite government efforts to redress skilled labor shortages.
Neither state grants established to encourage enrollment in vocational trainings nor vocational trainings for early school-leavers have had a positive effect on skill shortages, according to a June 2017 report ordered by the Ministry for National Economy.
In 2010 the ministry introduced vocational training grants as a means of incentivizing students to learn skills in short supply, such as carpentry, baking, cooking and welding. According to the report, these professions remain unpopular despite the grants.
Based on the report, other ministry programs launched to decrease the dropout rate and to help dropouts learn a profession also failed to achieve their goals. The report says fewer and fewer schools are participating in these programs. In the case of one such vocational training program, only 10-30 percent of students received a qualification.
The report notes that while the average of the rate of early school dropouts among EU Member States is constantly getting better, Hungary is drifting farther away from the goal of reaching below 10 percent early dropout rate by 2020. Based on the report, while the early dropout rate is steadily around seven percent in high schools, it is above 15 percent in vocational high schools and reaches 25 percent in vocational schools.
The report states that this correlates with students’ poor comprehension and mathematical skills. “Some 25 percent of the 15-year-old age group struggle with basic arithmetic and comprehension skills and can thus be considered functionally illiterate, and for this reason appropriate development of their professional skills is not possible,” the report states.
Although the government denies that there is a shortage of teachers, the report determines that in the 2016/2017 school year there were 3,899 fewer pedagogues working in middle education than in the 2007/2008 school year. In the 2016/2017 school year some 1,528 fewer teachers worked in vocational schools than in the 2012/2013 school year, the report states.
It also notes that while between 2012 and 2016 only 52 percent of vocational high school teachers aged 25-29 remained in the educational field, the number of vocational high school teachers aged 60-64 doubled during the same period. The same tendency can be observed among vocational school teachers, according to the report, meaning that neither the so-called pedagogue career plan nor the so-called Klebelsberg Grant seem to be solving the labor shortage.
The report concludes that the recently launched vocational measures could not reverse the unfavourable processes started earlier.