Myanmar seeks UK support to upgrade workforce
Myanmar needs to upgrade its current workforce to match the market demand, while preparing the next generation for the future of jobs. Both are indispensable if the economy were to develop.
The British Embassy in Yangon and UK Department for International Trade (DIT), in partnership with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), organised a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) conference at the Sule Shangri-La last week. The focus is to identify and close the growing mismatch between graduate skills and market needs in the country.
TVET is one of the priorities of the education ministry’s National Education Strategic Plan 2016-21. As the economy opens up, many sectors are in need of TVET opportunities to modernise, including agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and energy industries - these sectors account for around 85 percent of the country’s economic growth potential.
Daw Khine Khine Nwe, UMFCCI joint secretary-general, told The Myanmar Times that Myanmar needs to support the labour force of today and tomorrow.
“Our workforce today is a product of yesterday,” she remarked. The education system in the past is not complementary to what the private sector demands. Hence the existing workforce should be trained and educated right now.
“At the same time, tomorrow’s workforce - it’s the next generation. We have to start training them from today,” she said. The education ministry is undertaking reforms from kindergarten to tertiary levels - this is the long-term strategy for TVET.
Daw Khine Khine Nwe added that the UK’s education expertise will help Myanmar upgrade and modernise its education sector.
"Because Great Britain’s education sector is great and its knowledge [in TVET] is great, this is good for us.” - Daw Khine Khine Nwe, UMFCCI
“Because Great Britain’s education sector is great and its knowledge [in TVET] is great, this is good for us. Myanmar is in a transition period and our education is under a reform process,” she explained. The new strategies and committees set up seek to raise the level of educators, trainers and stakeholders in the country. In the process, it is helpful to learn from the British experience.
Douglas Barnes from DIT noted that his department engages with businesses in Yangon as well as the government in Nay Pyi Taw.
“We have tried to be focused on a number of sectors which we feel are important for the Myanmar economy. The four sectors are financial services, infrastructure, energy and education,” he highlighted. The UK is keen to offer their expertise and experience to help Myanmar develop the policies and regulatory framework for technical and vocational education," Mr Barnes said.
Jonathan Ledger, TVET specialist and speaker at the conference, stressed that the UK is “unmatched and unrivalled” in that experts can work with universities, schools, colleges and other organisations to make sure the employees have the skills for their jobs. The partnership can cover any part of the supply chain in order to deliver the results.
“TVET has a real potential to add value to the economy here. It is a lifelong learning process, not just for young people, but also for mature workers, supporting individuals and businesses to grow,” Mr Ledger commented.