THIMPHU, BHUTAN (31 August 2018) — The Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $15 million grant to support the Government of Bhutan’s efforts to expand and upgrade the country’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system to equip the local workforce with the necessary skills that meet the needs of the job market.

“Bhutan has been growing steadily over the last decade, with growth averaging 7.7% since 2007. But the country needs to diversify its economy and create jobs for this growth trend to continue and improve, for which skills development is a crucial requirement,” said ADB Principal Education Specialist Ms. Shanti Jagannathan. “Equipping Bhutan’s young workforce with the necessary skills that the labor market requires will help reduce the country’s skills shortage and boost productivity that will translate to sustained growth.”

Bhutan, a country with a population of about 780,000, faces high youth unemployment at 13.2%, which was 6 times the average national unemployment rate. Employers are also facing challenges in recruiting skilled workers, which result in a skills shortage that is hampering the development of the private sector. According to the National Workforce Plan, 2016–2022, more than 33% of employers face this challenge, impacting their productivity and business performance.

ADB’s Skills Training and Education Pathways Upgradation Project will improve skilled human capital in Bhutan, especially in enhancing the employability of TVET and secondary school graduates by transforming the country’s TVET system into a more modern, diversified, and job-oriented one.

The project will help elevate the standards of 5 technical training institutions (TTIs) in Bhutan through the introduction of new courses while doubling their capacity by 2023, benefitting a total of 2,200 students over 5 years. A new flagship TTI will be established in the capital city, Thimphu. The project will provide equipment embodying new and “green” technologies such as Computer Numerical Control machines, three-dimensional workstations for simulation, and virtual welders that consume less electricity and raw materials. Upgraded professional development programs will be provided to trainers and teachers, with e-learning resources. TVET elective subjects will be introduced in seven pilot schools to encourage more interest from secondary students to take up skills training.

Governance and institutional capacity for TVET will be improved, specifically by operationalizing an integrated and web-based TVET management information system and an employment services portal, as well as facilitating international partnerships for capacity development in at least one TTI.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.

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