Equipping youths with skills for ‘jobs of tomorrow’

Equipping youths with skills for ‘jobs of tomorrow’

The partnership, supported by the Government of Japan, will focus on advancing Bhutan’s efforts to align its TVET education system to the changing needs and future of work scenario in Bhutan

The Gross National Happiness Commission, UNDP and TVET Reform Project Office signed a Statement of Intent last week, formally establishing a partnership aimed at advancing the government’s endeavor to bring about transformational changes in the country’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

The TVET Reform Project Office was established in March as part of the Prime Minister’s Office by the government to revamp the TVET system with a goal to address the mismatch between education/skills and jobs. It is also to improve the image of TVET to attract the youth.

According to the joint press release of the signing ceremony, the project office, under the aegis of the Department of Technical Education, Ministry of Labor and Human Resources, is working to offer world class courses primarily through international collaboration with reputed institutes like the ITEE and Nanyang Polytechnic of Singapore.

“The courses offered will be not only reflective of and aligned with the changing labor market needs in the face the COVID-19 pandemic but also job skills for the future,” states the press release.

The partnership will reportedly see the TVET Reform Project Office and UNDP work together to create an enabling, innovative and inclusive employment ecosystem through three main activities. The TVET Reform Project Office and UNDP’s Accelerator Lab team will work together with an international consultant to develop the concept and a strategy for the Bhutan Innovation and Technical Education (BITE) Hub.

The BITE Hub is a prototype project that will provide an enabling space and environment for the youth to experiment innovative ideas. They will also carry out job mapping and assessment for future and digital skilling, curriculum framework, and study on blended learning pedagogy and introduction of digital learning management systems (LMS).

According to the press release, the TVET Reform Project Office will also collaborate with Nanyang Polytechnic International NYPi, an arm of the Singapore Government’s Ministry of Education in the technical sector, in the implementation of skilling, reskilling and upskilling training programs. These include training for over 100 participants from the technical training institutes (TTIs) and the relevant agencies on design thinking, emergency supply chain and logistics, and TVET management systems including Nanyang Polytechnic’s popular concept of Teaching Factory.

The procurement of services of Bhutan FabLab through UNDP will look at five different programmes, focusing on innovation, design and production skills, including developing digital contents on blended virtual hands-on-training program, and certification alliance with renowned institutions and industries.

“This project will go a long way in establishing an innovative framework for skilling the youth with the future skills and engage them in nation building,” said the CEO of TVET Reform Project Office, Kinga Tshering. “It will enable us to forge ahead with some of our plans of collaboration with reputed international technical institutes like the NYPi, Singapore and also joint certification through the Bhutan Fablab proposal.”

GNHC Secretary Thinley Namgyel said, “This is a timely support in an important area of work. We look forward to seeing concrete and innovative results coming out of this collaboration.”

Meanwhile, UNDP’s partnership with the TVET Reform Project Office is part of UNDP-supported COVID-19 Response and Recovery project Towards a Smarter, Greener and More Resilient Recovery through Innovation in Bhutan. It is funded by the Government of Japan.

“TVET Reform is critical for Bhutan’s economic rebound post-pandemic and in building back better programs and skill development systems to not only respond to the demands for competitive skills of the 21st century but also to the needs of the youths and underprivileged groups,” said UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota.

“The mandate of the TVET Reform Project Office strongly resonates with UNDP’s work in the innovation space. It has identified ‘Future of Work’ as one of the frontier challenges to be addressed through its newly established Accelerator Lab,” states the press release.

Staff Reporter from Thimphu