Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and skill development pose a serious challenge, particularly in countries with rapidly evolving labor markets (ADB 2009).
Recognizing the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the overall socio-economic development process, the Royal Government of Bhutan had introduced the TVET system, right from the mid-1960s in the country.
Despite considerable investments made in the TVET sector over the past decades, it still faces significant challenges in terms of access, relevance and quality of skills in the wake of a rapid socio-economic transformation of the country.
The TVET is still a less preferred option for most youth in general while at the same time, TVET graduates continue to face difficulty in upgrading their educational qualification and career advancement. These factors have further aggravated the problem of the weak TVET system.
The National Council during the deliberation on employment policies, programs and strategies in its 16th Session had highlighted the need to conduct a comprehensive diagnostic study on the current TVET system. However, since the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources was in the process of developing a TVET Blueprint, the review work was shelved temporarily.
The issue on the need to review the TVET system in the country surfaced once again during the 3rd National Council’s retreat held at Paro in July 2018. A 5-member Special Committee for TVET was constituted to conduct the review.
The Special Committee conducted a series of one-on-one meetings with stakeholders and referred numerous documents such as TVET policy, reports, plan documents, TVET sector assessment reports, TVET Blueprint, etc.
The Committee submitted the Interim Report to the House during the 22nd Session of the National Council. The Final Report was submitted during the 23rd Session of the National Council where the House had an extensive deliberation on the report.
Following are the key highlights of the report:
Currently, there are 797 trainees undergoing training in eight institutes including two Institutes for Zorig Chusum (IZC). The minimum entry qualification for the courses offered in Technical Training Institutes and Institute for Zorig Chusum is class X certificate holders. Of the total 153 trainees, 111 have diploma qualifications, 32 have a degree qualification and 10 trainers with a national certificate.
Although the Bhutan Vocational Qualification Framework (BVQF) has been established to enhance the quality of vocational skills and to provide definitive career pathways for the vocational trade practitioners, a considerable gap remains in the effective implementation of the system.
The Institutional linkages between the Vocational Training Institutes and the Industries are weak.
The officials providing TVET support services in the Ministry are often bogged down with bureaucratic works that could partially be blamed for not being able to provide focused and timely professional TVET services, particularly in the fields of research & development, curriculum review & development, and professional development for instructors/trainers. Moreover, the civil service system’s strong emphasis on educational qualifications has created limited opportunity for most of the TVET instructors in terms of their career progression in the civil service. This has inadvertently affected their morale negatively.
Despite the increased intake capacity in TVET, the youth opting for TVET courses are under-subscribed. There is also a weak linkage between the TVET Institutes and Industries as well as limited collaboration/affiliation with the institutes overseas. The lack of adequate financial resources is one of the main factors confronting this area.
After extensive deliberations on the findings of the Committee’s review report, the National Council recommended the following to the Government:
- To establish a TVET Council with members representing relevant sectors & TVET experts, and a TVET Sector Skills Council.
- To develop TVET HR Policy with a dedicated HRD budget for the professional development of instructors, including the provisions for recruiting experts with specialized expertise in the TVET sector.
- To diversify areas of training programs and enrich the current curriculum that will impart soft skills.
- To strengthen industrial linkages so that it provides better employment opportunities for the TVET graduates as well as to ensure the relevancy of skills training to the labour market.
- To provide adequate budgetary support to the TVET sector.
The Government of the day supported the yearlong TVET policy review carried out by the National Council and gave light to the Council’s recommendations.
Transformation of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) should be the primary focus of the labour ministry, and the rest should follow, Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering said at the review of the agency’s annual performance agreement on August 5, 2019.
To develop and revamp the image of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the country, a TVET Interim Office was established in Thimphu on March 17, 2020.
The team comprising of five members will officially work towards the formation of an autonomous agency related to TVET. Leading the team as the Chief Executive Officer is Kinga Tshering, former Parliament member, who graduated from Harvard Kennedy School in recent years for the TVET Reform Initiative.
The team will have to report to the Prime Minister’s Office during the transition period until it takes off as an independent organization.
The Government pursued TVET reforms, since last year, following the Council’s recommendations. It had two expert groups working on the new curriculum for skills and competency relevant to the 21st century, and ensuring the governance structure of the revised system.
The team led by the new CEO presented follow up on the Councils Review Report on the TVET and held a brainstorming session on TVET Reforms on April 16, 2020.
Under the dynamic leadership of the newly appointed CEO, we are hopeful that the TVET system will grow to a greater height and we are proud to be part of the reform and to be working towards a common goal of the nation.
If Education is the key to Economic Development then TVET is the master Key to Sustainable Development. ~Dr. Prof. Shyamal Majumdar.
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