Phurpa Lhamo 

Topography studies of the technical training institutes for expansion, curriculum formulations, Training of Trainers (ToT) by master trainers from outside Bhutan and skills development programmes have begun as part of the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) reform plan.

The plan was approved on July 27 this year.

According to the Director of labour ministry’s department of technical education, Norbu Wangchuk, the  ongoing skills development programme and build Bhutan project (BBP) were part of TVET reform plan.

These on-going activities were also targeted to address the immediate issues concerning the workforce in Bhutan after the pandemic set in.

The skills development programme, which started in October this year, is training unemployed interested youth in various TVET courses.

Labour ministry plans to train interested youth in eight different TVET courses this month. The programme will introduce 108 courses in the following years.

Norbu Wangchuk said that while the ministry aimed to train around 10,000 youths within two year’s time, the response from youth was not encouraging.

The TVET reform plan targets to improve current perception of TVET workers and also equip Bhutanese youth with 21st-century skills.

This will be achieved through four pillars of the TVET reform plan—product transformation, place transformation, people transformation and process transformation.

Place transformation 

As part of place transformation pillar, aesthetically appealing infrastructures, engaging and multiuse teaching and learning facilities, and institutes integrated with information and communication technology (ICT) would be built.

Norbu Wangchuk said that topography studies of eight TTIs in Bhutan were completed recently.

He added that with over 40 percent of land spatial under the TTI in Chumey, Bumthang, the institute has the prospects of becoming a mega institute. “Realising that, we decided to have a conceptual design first. We have set work to an architectural firm in India.” The conceptual design is expected to be ready soon.

If the conceptual design is delivered well, work for the conceptual design for expansion of the TTI in Samthang would also be handed to the firm in India. Norbu Wangchuk said that in addition to space available with TTI Samthang, the ministry was also exploring to procure an additional 11 acres next to the TTI.

Product transformation 

Under the product transformation pillar, Norbu Wangchuk said that diversified TVET programs aligning to the 21st century economy needs, and to embrace the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) or industry 4.0 are core targets. “We are looking at courses from various countries. The focus is more on digital and Internet Technology such as cloud computing and blockchain.”

Norbu Wangchuk said that metal art and fabrication and electrical and hybrid technology curriculums have been developed.

People transformation

Building inspiring and visionary TVET leaders and managers, and world-class TVET professionals are some of the aspirations under the pillar.

As of today, around 13 master trainers were invited to Bhutan. The master trainers are from Thailand, South Korea and Germany. The master trainers have already provided ToTs and helped develop curriculums.

Norbu Wangchuk said that a master trainer from Thailand with trainers had also repaired numerous central heating systems including one at the national referral hospital. Another Thai master trainer also maintained 22 sliding doors at Paro  Airport, for which the workforce was usually outsourced.

A memorandum of understanding has also been signed with the Institute of Technical Education in Singapore, which will help develop and implement two diploma courses.

The Asian Development Bank will also support ToT programmes in Bhutan.

Process transformation 

Streamlining clear governance and institutional mechanisms to deliver quality and responsive TVET programmes, and ensuring clear and flexible learning and career pathways are parts of process transformation.

Norbu Wangchuk said that the draft national TVET policy would be submitted to the government for approval. It will be the overarching policy for TVET.

Cost estimate to implement the TVET reform plan is around Nu 6 billion.