Up to 1,000 students are turned away from vocational apprenticeships every year in Iceland due to the schools’ lack of funding, RÚV reports. At the same time, Iceland is experiencing a shortage of tradespeople in the labour market. Vocational schools need ISK 2 billion [$14.5 million, €13.3 million] to make ends meet and improve their equipment.
“This is, of course, an unacceptable situation while there is a great need for tradespeople in the labour market,” stated Sigurður Hannesson, director of the Federation of Icelandic Industries (SI). The organisation recently conducted an analysis that is the source of the above figures. The analysis indicates that vocational schools’ facilities are bursting at the seams, and many are operating at a deficit in order to accept more students.
Interest in vocational programs surged after a promotional campaign carried out by SI and the government several years ago. “But now the government needs to take the next step, which is to improve the facilities and provide the schools with more funds so they can actually accept more students,” Sigurður stated.
Tækniskólinn is the main vocational school in Reykjavík, with 13 trade-specific programs. Others exist in Akureyri and Sauðarkrókur, North Iceland; Neskaupstaður, East Iceland; and other locations across the country. Sigurður says the Minister of Education Ásmundur Einar Daðason is very willing to address the situation but stresses the urgency of taking action now.