Interest in vocational education and training (VET) among students in Iceland has traditionally been far less than interest in general education, despite the labour market’s demand for more people with VET qualifications.
To change this, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture launched a campaign in May and June 2013 to draw students’ attention to the possibilities offered by VET.
Cool advertisements with the slogan ‘You can do this’ (Þetta getur þú), with flashy photographs of people in different professions were published in newspapers and online and shown in cinemas. Teachers and students were interviewed on the radio and the two main radio stations broadcast general information about the campaign.
The campaign was initiated after a successful dialogue between literally everybody involved in education and training in Iceland: students, teachers, parents, educational administrators, employers’ and employees’ federations, officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and municipal authorities. This was an EU funded project called Natlogue, short for national dialogue. It was discovered that many people knew little, if anything, about the various possibilities VET offers; parents and students, for example, did not realise that VET opens the way towards university education just as general education does, and that VET does not automatically lead to a ‘dirty’ job or poor working environment.
Many participants in the Natlogue pointed out that the way to catch young people’s attention was not to print yet another brochure but rather to use the Internet, social media and radio/TV. The Icelandic Confederation committed to supporting the campaign, as many companies are in need of better-trained staff.