The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan are to help Myanmar upgrade and modernise technical and vocational training programs to meet the country’s pressing need for skilled young workers.
A $2 million Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction grant, administered by ADB, will be used to develop and pilot three month-long competency-based courses in skills such as construction, welding, and use and repair of rural machinery, the Manila-based lender said.
“Overhauling technical and vocational training to make them more relevant, modern and accessible is critical for developing the foundational skills needed to support Myanmar’s economic transformation and help cut poverty,” said Christopher Spohr, senior education economist based in Myanmar.
ADB said the target is to train at least 1,000 young people, and steps will be taken to ensure that places are reserved for women and young adults from poor and disadvantaged families.
Courses will be launched in five training centers located in Yangon, Mandalay, and Pakokku starting this November, and will be free of charge.
The grant builds on early findings from Myanmar’s forthcoming costed education sector plan, which is helping pinpoint gaps and “quick win” opportunities in the country’s education sector, ADB said.
Myanmar’s workforce lacks well-trained workers to immediately step into positions opening up as a result of recent reforms. Existing technical training is focused on long-term programs in urban niche skills, such as operating computers, with less than 2 percent of 16-19 year olds engaged in skills training courses.
In rural areas the situation is even worse, ADB said, with less than 0.5 percent of rural males and females enrolled in technical or vocational training programs.
The lender said as well as setting up short courses, the technical assistance project will help relevant government agencies gain the necessary capacity to develop and oversee youth skills training programs.
ADB said the course outcomes will also be assessed to provide a potential model for replication in future.
Along with the grant support from Japan, Myanmar will provide counterpart assistance equivalent to $500,000 for a total project cost of $2.5 million.