ADB, Japan Help Myanmar Upgrade Youth Skills to Lift Economy

The $2 million grant will develop three month-long courses in construction, welding, and use and repair of rural machinery.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan are to help Myanmar upgrade and modernize technical and vocational training programs to meet the country’s pressing need for skilled young workers.

“Overhauling technical and vocational training to make them more relevant, modern and accessible is critical for developing the foundational skills needed to support Myanmar’s economic transformation and help cut poverty,” said Christopher Spohr, Senior Education Economist based in Myanmar.

A $2 million Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction grant, administered by ADB, will be used to develop and pilot three month-long competency-based courses in skills such as construction, welding, and use and repair of rural machinery. The target is to train at least 1,000 young people, and steps will be taken to ensure that places are reserved for women and young adults from poor and disadvantaged families.

The grant builds on early findings from Myanmar’s forthcoming costed education sector plan, which is helping pinpoint gaps and “quick win” opportunities in the country’s education sector.

Myanmar’s workforce lacks well-trained workers to immediately step into positions opening up as a result of recent reforms. Existing technical training is focused on long-term programs in urban niche skills, such as operating computers, with less than 2% of 16-19 year olds engaged in skills training courses. In rural areas the situation is even worse, with less than 0.5%of rural males and females enrolled in technical or vocational training programs.

As well as setting up short courses, the technical assistance project will help relevant government agencies gain the necessary capacity to develop and oversee youth skills training programs. The course outcomes will also be assessed to provide a potential model for replication in future.

Along with the grant support from Japan, the Government of Myanmar will provide counterpart assistance equivalent to $500,000 for a total project cost of $2.5 million.