It is a universal observation that impressions about Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) are not uniform across regions, economies and communities. As TVET programs are often stigmatized as "Second Class" and is supported by the fact that in many developing countries, young people and their parents shun vocational education because they regard it as a 'second-choice' educational option. Its low status is rooted in the pre-industrial revolution and at present in the colonial past of countries', where training used to be and is being received by 'inferior' groups for blue-collar jobs. Vocational track programs therefore attract few students and its enrollment lags behind those in the general education.
The Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC), realizing the implications of this trend, aims to introduce solutions to strengthen the image of TVET programs in the member countries, specifically in Bhutan. In view of this, an In-Country Program for the Image Building of TVET was organized in cooperation with the Department of Human Resources (DHR), Ministry of Labor and Human Resources (MOHLR), Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The program was held at the NRDCL Hall in Thimphu from October 7-11, 2014. Twenty one (21) administrators and lecturers from various fields of the Bhutanese TVET sector participated in the program.
The In-Country program aims to provide relevant insights, methods and strategies for improving the image of TVET. It also aims to address the challenge of inclusiveness of TVET by developing strategies for increasing access to TVET for the poor, marginalized and broader community of students. The program also seeks to promote and enhance relevance and quality of vocational skills for improved employability.
The program was supervised by the CPSC Director General, Dr. Mohammad Naim Yaakub and Mr. Sangay Dorji, Chief Program Officer of the Training and Professional Services Division, DHR, MOHLR, Government of Bhutan. Program coordination and expertise on the theme were provided by the CPSC Faculty Consultant, Dr. Hazrat Hussain while the local coordination and logistics was provided by the Program Officer of the Department of Human Resources, Ministry of Labor and Human Resources, Mr. Kinley Gyeltshen.
The inauguration ceremony was held on October 7, 2014 and was chaired by the MOHLR Honorable Secretary Dasho Pema Wangda. He expressed his gratefulness to CPSC in organizing this program for the benefit of TVET in Bhutan and mentioned his appreciations to the current management of CPSC. On the occasion Mr. Sangay Dorji extended the vote of thanks to everyone involved in the preparation of this program and expressed his optimism on its success.
The delivery of the program followed a spiral learning approach, beginning with an overview of the core concepts, followed by progressively deeper application of the concepts and finally, a self-directed learning approach through action planning. Some of the program themes included: (1) Popularizing TVET: Status, Strategies and Mechanisms, (2) Models for Improving Access, Equity and Employability and (3) Gender Mainstreaming Mechanisms in TVET. An action plan to popularize TVET will be created by the participants to transform their lessons into concrete and executable plans.
A seminar which tackled the current initiatives and practices in building TVET image in Bhutan was conducted on October 10, 2014 to further extend the program benefits to a wider group of audience. The seminar was designed for TVET stakeholders i.e. TVET organizations and industry representatives for sharing their experiences with participants on the emerging scenario of current issues and emerging trends related to local labor participation in skilled jobs and reorienting TVET to make it an established stream of educational pursuit by individuals. The broad themes of the seminar include: (1) National Human Resource Planning with Special Focus on Skilled Manpower; (2) Current Policies, Initiatives and practices in popularizing TVET in Bhutan; (3) Accreditation Frameworks for Building Stakeholders Confidence in TVET; and (4) Basic Techniques in building TVET Corporate Image.
The seminar involved expertise of senior members from the Bhutan's' MOHLR including Mr. Kinga Wangdi and Mr. Karma Dorji, as well as a representative from the Loden Foundation (a Bhutanese non-governmental organization), Mr. Pema Wangchuk. Mr. Wangdi mentioned about the challenges in the implementation of the "National Human Resources Planning" in addressing the need for skilled manpower for the booming sectors such as construction, tourism and paramedics and at the same time mentioned about the surplus workforce from higher education. He urged the ministries to address the needs of the youth population through programs that will enable them to develop gainful careers and lifelong skills. Mr. Dorji, meanwhile, mentioned the different systems in accommodating the graduates from technical institutions through a comprehensive explanation on the systems of recruitment, certification and employment. Dr. Hussain explained the role of APACC Accreditation of TVET institutions and programs in building stakeholders' confidence through quality improvement and better workforce mobility. Mr. Wangchuk, on the other hand, mentioned some important aspects on developing TVET image through marketing strategies of market segmentation, market targeting and market positioning. He also mentioned the importance of branding TVET in establishing a customer base and reputation. 42 delegates from different departments and organizations attended the seminar.
Seminar Session (left photo) and Speakers with the Chief Guest Mr. Kinly Wangdi, Director, DHR
(first from right, seated) during the Seminar (right photo)
The Certificate Distribution Ceremony was graced by the Honorable Minister for Education Mr. Nima Sangay Tshempo. The minister expressed his view on the importance of building TVET image since his stint at UNESCO and mentioned that the Government of Kingdom of Bhutan is according high priority to the elevation of TVET image in view of the expansion construction , tourism and paramedic sector that suffer from deficiency of skilled manpowered. HE the Minister lauded the timely intervention of CPSC in conducting the ICP and Seminar with focus the issue in hand. Latter on the Honorable Minister awarded certificates to the participants as well as to the resource persons and coordinators of the program. Honorable Secretary Dasho Pema Wangda was also present on the occasion.
Program participants with the Honorable Minister of Education Mr. Nima Sangay Tshempo (center) at
the Closing Ceremony
Overall, the program registered an acceptable appreciation rate of more than 90% as the participants expressed their appreciation for an excellent implementation of the in-country program.