Labour: The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system in the country today is confronted with several challenges that is hindering the generation of a qualified skilled workforce.

TVET graduates are finding it difficult to get employed while those who are already employed fall short of their employers’ expectations.

The lack of qualified TVET instructors, proper curriculum and inadequate technical infrastructures to accommodate the growing number of young people entering the labour market are some of the emerging hindrances in the effective development of the TVET sector in the country.

A national consultative workshop was held last week in Thimphu to review the draft blueprint with the stakeholders concerned and validate the strategies in the draft.

The labour ministry has come up with several strategies under four main pillars to address the issues. The strategies are under the TVET blueprint that the ministry is currently drafting.

The first pillar addresses expanding TVET provisions to narrow the enrolment gap because of the growing number of people entering the labour market.

According to the draft blueprint, the enrolment capacity of the public TVET sector will grow by around four times over the next decade. In order to facilitate this expansion, construction of physical infrastructures such as workshops, classrooms and necessary equipment is required.

Officials said that under the education blueprint there are plans for 20,000 pupils from the secondary school system to enter formal TVET. The current TVET system in the country has place for only around 8,000 learners.

Facilitating the expansion of private TVET providers will also be looked into with focus on improved and effective utilisation of resources at their disposal according to the blueprint.

Improving the quality of TVET programmes by providing qualified instructors is another area the draft blueprint focuses on. Initiatives such as training of trainers, development of new occupational standards and identification of new and innovative delivery will also be looked into.

Currently the absence of qualified instructors is a big hindrance in imparting adequate TVET programmes to the trainees. According to officials, the country lacks competent instructors. Around 50 percent of the country’s instructors have a diploma level qualification or below.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the TVET sector is the low economic relevance and low social status.  Young jobseekers would remain unemployed rather than take up technical and vocational training leading to a paradoxical situation of rising youth unemployment on one hand and increasing import of skilled foreign workers.

To address the issue, the draft blueprint suggests that youth should be given employable skills, which are in demand and existing programmes, be expanded to ensure they can access the labour market. New programmes will also be introduced to support employment overseas.

A better alignment between the supply and demand for skills should also be achieved, stated the blueprint.

The requirement of a comprehensive Labour Market Information System (LMIS) was also highlighted in the draft blueprint to guide in decision-making. LMI system will maintain updated data and recognise priority areas for supporting skills development.

According to the blueprint, currently, the TVET management system is characterised by “structural weaknesses” and requires immediate attention to determine skill needs in priority sectors.

The TVET blueprint aims to align skills development programmes with the country’s economic priorities and make TVET occupations attractive career routes for youth. A draft of the document is expected to be ready the end of this month and submitted to the cabinet in April.

The blueprint was developed with assistance from the ADB and 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).

Younten Tshedup