KP Sharma

For nearly five decades, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme has been grappling with a lack of recognition and appreciation.

TVET is widely acknowledged as a key driver of economic growth and a potential remedy for addressing unemployment challenges in various countries, globally.

However, despite proven effectiveness and importance, TVET often has remained undervalued and overlooked, both in terms of public perception and policy priorities.

Is it how we look at TVET?

The crisp answer is “Yes”.

The lack of popularity and the low societal image of TVET in Bhutan have hindered its development over the years.

Without significant reforms in the sector, the gap between TVET institutes and the needs of employment market has widened.

No wonder so young Bhutanese are looking elsewhere for better opportunities.

According to the World Bank’s Bhutan Labour Market Assessment Report 2024, there is a need for a demand-driven approach and closer collaboration between TVET institutions and employers to effectively address the identified skill mismatches in the labour

To tackle these issues, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with Humber College in Canada, has initiated consultations and meetings with various stakeholders of TVET institutions to discuss reform initiatives aimed at making them more suitable for current times.

Nalini Andrade, the Director of the International Development Institute (IDI) at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, said that the college is leading comprehensive TVET reform initiatives in Bhutan.

She said that globally, TVET aligns with industry demands, unlike traditional educational institutions, which often lack relevance to the labour market. Andrade stressed the importance of TVET institutions reflecting the needs of the labor market. “TVET institutions must reflect the needs of the labour market.”

Acknowledging challenges in Bhutan, Andrade stressed the importance of assessing the relevance of courses offered and upgrading them accordingly. “Some of the existing courses need upgrading to meet current skill demands.”


Market scan and labour market surveys

Andrade said that, in case of Bhutan, there is a need to invest in graduates with knowledge and skills in emerging sectors like solar energy, in areas with future growth potential.

The absence of a market for certain trained skills, Andrade said, must be encouraged through entrepreneurship opportunities. Only then will there be industry growth, she added.

In the global context, it is standard practice for all courses to be overseen by industry advisory committees, ensuring alignment with market demands.

Industries, sometimes, engage directly with institutions to assess students’ skills, fostering stronger connections between institutions and industry. Such practices lack in Bhutan.

To bridge this gap, the director stated that the college would collaborate with the Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship to establish an industry advisory committee.

The committee’s mandate extends beyond assessing course relevance; it will also provide training to institutions on fostering effective collaboration with industry.

This collaboration aims to enhance the connections between educational institutions and industries, ensuring that skills remain aligned with market demands.

Currently, TVET institutions face challenges such as inadequate infrastructure and lack of modern equipment, which hinder the skill development of trainees.

For instance, despite the widespread use of electric cars, many auto mechanic institutions still use outdated equipment for training purposes. This technological gap poses a risk to the employability of trainees, as their skills become outdated and fail to meet current market demands.

Addressing these infrastructure and equipment deficiencies is crucial for ensuring the future success of TVET trainees in securing employment opportunities that align with market needs in the country.