The Relationship Between Food Security and VET
In response to national pressures, changing environmental conditions and challenging international factors, the Egyptian government needs to (i) maximise the efficiency of its operations to preserve the scarce natural resources; and (ii) reduce wastes throughout the agricultural value chain as indicated by the Sustainable Agricultural Development Strategy 2030. An effective system of VET could potentially contribute to these goals. In addition to its capacity to raise awareness about social and health-related issues, such as family planning and nutritional diets, an effective VET system is capable of raising the skill levels of human resources across the value chain. Human resources represent a very valuable resource for the Egyptian economy that is available in abundance given the size of the population. However, if these are not qualified to positively contribute to the economy, especially young people, this valuable resource will turn into a massive burden on the economy through, for instance, unemployment, poverty and increasing consumption rates without an equivalent productive capacity.
The agricultural sector is short of qualified individuals with the right mix of knowledge and skills to maximise productivity. This forces Egyptian agribusinesses to rely on foreign labour in many instances to make up for the shortage of skilled Egyptian labour. The limited effectiveness of Egyptian workers on the job and the relatively high levels of wasted resources that result from low levels of education and training were cited as the most enduring reasons to support reliance on imported labour (Soliman 2011). This response is not uncommon across the private sector but affordability of foreign labour is not always available especially for smaller businesses. The latter are most prone to the negative impact of inefficient labour skills and struggle to find qualified and efficient farmers and workers (Soliman 2011).
The potential contributions of VET to food security mainly through enhanced levels of labour productivity and reduced levels of wastes of resources, both of which are necessary to enhance levels ofdomestic production, are limited by the ineffectiveness of the system of VET. Furthermore, the current VET system, particularly in agriculture, negatively influences the levels of productivity and efficiency on a general level. VET development in this sense is part of the overall capacity building and sustainable development of the agricultural sector as a whole and it would be erroneous to underestimate its potential (Maguire 2011). Hence, the challenge at this stage lies first on the means by which the government can enhance the effectiveness of the VET system to be in a position to contribute to addressing the problem of food insecurity in the future.