Education: To address the gap between the industry skills requirements and the supply of trained and competent human capital, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) will become attractive to youth with the framework of a TVET Blueprint.

The blueprint, which is in the final stage and, is expected to be submitted to the cabinet next month, forms the foundation on which the labour ministry and other agencies put in place technical expertise and resource endowment to provide quality TVET.

According to the blueprint, school-leavers who have undergone vocational training in schools will receive preference during admission into TVET course in technical training institutes and institutes of zorig chusum. Nationally recognized TVET qualifications will provide opportunities to move from TVET into general technical education and to progress to higher studies.

Measures will be put in place to improve the parity of esteem between TVET and tertiary education. The national certificate will be issued only for courses, which are accredited by the TVET Authority, which the government is expected to establish.

The TVET Authority will carry out periodic assessment of the facilities, mostly encompassing teaching-learning tools and equipment in all the institutes and give recommendations for improvement.

Regular market studies will be conducted to initiate either opening of new training institutes or expansion of the existing ones.

Based on the provisions of the Economic Development Policy, tax incentives will be made available for the purchase of training equipment, tools, and machines to those institutes outside Thimphu and Phuentsholing municipalities.

As TVET operates at the interface of different sectors of society, a culture of partnership shall be fostered among various stakeholders including the government, NGOs, and the private sector, especially businesses and business associations.

Based on merit, the government will provide low-interest or interest-free loans, partial and full scholarships to students wanting to pursue TVET both within and outside the country. In addition to the government funding, TVET institutes will raise their own revenues by charging students, renting out their facilities and providing consultancy services.

Speaking at the consultation workshop on “Review of Bhutan Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Blueprint” on Thursday, labour and human resources minister Ngeema sangay Tshempo said the TVET Blueprint is in line with the Bhutan Education Blueprint (2014-2024) and highlights increasing the proportion of students achieving the expected learning outcomes specified for different stages of school education as one the main challenges as; it cites that students lack academic preparation and professional skills for employment.

He said one of the significant recommendations from the Education Blueprint is to review the current system of learning areas in grade XI and XII to allow more flexibility to choose subjects to cater to a range of student interest and abilities. The Education Blueprint also proposes to restructure the education pathways to allow for greater options in choosing elective subjects, incorporating emerging learning areas.

An autonomous TVET Authority, independent of the labour ministry will be formed to coordinate and regulate the national TVET system. The TVET Authority shall be responsible for TVET planning, developing strategies and action plans to provide direction for the national TVET system. The TVET Authority will continuously monitor the capacity of the national TVET system and accordingly make recommendations for improvement.

A board (with Governors representing various stakeholder bodies) will be formed to govern the national TVET system. The Board shall approve important decisions on policy directions and quality management.

An association of TVET providers will be formed as an interest group to reflect and lobby for the needs of the system. It will be the responsibility of the labour and human resources ministry to ensure that TVET graduates are paid commensurate to their national qualification levels determined through the national minimum wage/salary for skilled workers.

The government will formulate a TVET Act to strengthen and promote the national TVET system. The Act, among others, will set out the powers of the TVET Authority and the roles and responsibilities of various other professional bodies that have a stake in the national TVET system.

Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said the acute shortage of locally trained workers at all skill levels and the heavy reliance on foreign workers against the face of increasing youth unemployment has been a major government concern.  “To address this emerging problem, there is an urgent need to bring transformational changes in the education system including  TVET,” he said.

The TVET blueprint, developed with assistance from the ADB has the exact purpose to articulate a long-term strategic vision that will guide and influence reforms and development in TVET over the next 10 years (2016 to 2026).

The ministry is making an economy based human resource planning geared towards skilling Bhutan.

MB Subba