With its resource-based economy, Laos continues to be one of the lowest-income countries in the region. The strong economic growth of seven to eight per cent per year in the last decade has not had a substantial impact. Growth predominantly affected sectors such as mining and energy, which do not generate high demand for workers. The quality of growth in terms of sustainable development; particularly the generation of employment and poverty reduction, was comparably low.
Enterprises mainly in urban areas often complain about the lack of qualified workers. This also rings true, as Lao enterprises increasingly face competition among neighbouring countries as part of the progressing regional integration within the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Community (AEC). As a result, the demands on training, quality and the productivity of the Lao workforce continue to increase. The labour market is characterised by the coexistence of underemployment and the lack of qualified workers.
So far, the national technical vocational education and training (TVET) system has provided only a limited number of graduates with relevant skills and competencies required by the Lao labour market. The entire education system and the economy have not yet been capable to jointly address this major challenge and establish cooperative TVET models which provide flexible and needs-oriented qualifications for enterprises. This has constituted a key barrier to economic growth particularly in the economically more dynamic provinces of the country. As a result, the core problem consists in a lack of demand-oriented cooperative TVET in these provinces.
Dual-Cooperative Training programmes for relevant professions have been established in the dynamic economic centres of Luang Prabang, Pakse and Vientiane.
VELA aims to support the Lao Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) with the further development and consolidation of the already piloted Dual-Cooperative Training (DCT) approach in close cooperation with the state and the private sector.
The project provides capacity building and organisational development support to four DCT Flagship Colleges in provinces with high demand for labour. In order to provide information on DCT programmes and to promote the approach among various target groups; for example enterprises as training providers or young people as potential participants, a DCT Service Centre is set up within LNCCI. In addition, the capacities of the private sector to play an efficient role in the organisation and implementation of DCT programmes on provincial level as well as the management and steering of DCT in close coordination with public actors on national level are strengthened.
The project has been an important driver for the development of the regulatory framework. The TVET Development Plan 2016-2020 and implementing regulations for both DCT and Integrated Vocational Education and Training (IVET) were developed with assistance of the project. Support was also given to the development of a concept and an implementation manual for establishing a National Qualification Framework (NQF).
With the development of ten and the roll-out of three DCT programmes in six supported vocational colleges, the project provided support to improving the labour market orientation of TVET. The Lao-German Technical College in Vientiane Capital served as a nucleus for the dissemination of the DCT approach to other colleges and provinces. The project provided capacity building to TVET teachers, in-company trainers, coordinators and management staff to organise and implement the new DCT programmes. Support was also given to the colleges to set up structures and processes which allow for a joint coordination of the programmes with the private sector partners. For assuring the quality of DCT in both the colleges and the partner enterprises, a mentoring system was developed and introduced.
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