The Marshall Islands: Skills Training and Vocational Education Project

Evaluation Document | 20 December 2012

Asseses the performance of the project and highlights lessons. Provides inputs to two broader evaluations - the regional evaluation of ADB support for the Pacific, and the special evaluation study on Millennium Development Goals.

The low educational attainment and shortage of Marshallese skilled workers were largely due to the low quality of basic education, lack of access to education in the outer islands, and weaknesses in skills training and the vocational and technical education system. These served as a backdrop to an economy marked by high unemployment because of constrained private sector growth and government downsizing. Unemployment was especially high among the youth and women in the outer islands. Suitable local skilled personnel for existing job vacancies were not available, hence the importation of appropriately skilled foreign workers. Thus, there was a mismatch between available jobs and skills of the Marshallese labor force. These conditions provided the initiative for the Government of the Marshall Islands to prioritize technical and vocational education training reforms.

In 2000, ADB approved a loan for $9.1 million to improve skills training to provide well-trained workers needed for sustained economic and social development. This was to be achieved through an integrated national skills training system. The project consisted of four components covering development of a career awareness program, skills training improvement, enhanced skills training opportunities for women and youth, and institutional strengthening. The expected outcome was increased income generating opportunities and employment for trainees, especially for women and youth in the outer islands.

Overall, the project was rated unsuccessful. Limited progress was achieved in making the project responsive to the requirements of its beneficiaries and private sector employers. The long-standing weakness of poor competencies in numeracy and literacy among public school elementary and secondary school graduates and dropouts entering college or attending voc-tech education could be partly attributed to the poor quality of basic education. The project was supply driven and was unable to establish strong linkage with private sector requirements or align its activities with the needs of the labor market. The status of the technical and vocational education training system has remained fundamentally the same after project completion.

The study put forward that ADB could encourage the Government of the Marshall Islands, through consultation and policy dialogue, to follow through on the government's commitment to establish a dedicated labor information system to link technical and vocational education training system program offerings with industry demand. Although a labor market information system was set up by the project, in the absence of in-house staff capability at the National Training Council, it was not made fully operational.

Contents 

  • Basic Data
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Design and Implementation
  • Performance Assessment
  • Other Assessments
  • Issues, Lessons, and Follow-Up Actions
  • Appendixes