The government of Bhutan recognizes the importance of skills development for job quality and is committed to improving the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector. ADB’s Skills Training and Education Pathways Upgradation Project (STEPUP) is helping Bhutan expand and upgrade TVET system for modern, diversified, and job-oriented skills development. An important part of this project is to make the TVET program inclusive for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Overall, ADB’s support aims to increase skilled human capital for equitable socioeconomic development in Bhutan.   


Tandin Dorji, Bakery Trainee:

Each night before I go to bed, I think of my condition and feel a little depressed about life. I feel that I am useless.

Rinchen Lhamo, Spa & Massage Trainee: 

At times, I keep going through all sorts of thoughts in my head. At times, I feel extremely sad when I think about my condition. I can’t help but wish I could see properly.

A major daily challenge I face is the cost of taxi fares when going to the city. In addition, I must make frequent visits to the hospital to treat my wounds. I struggle with this situation everyday.

I am unable to see properly in bright light. Whenever I go outside, I must rely on a companion to guide me. I hesitate to ask for their help every time.

Tandin and Rinchen are among the 2.1% of the population of Bhutan with a disability.

For persons with disabilities (PWDs), discrimination and stigma are a daily reality.

To help promote opportunities and equality for PWDs like Tandin and Rinchen, ADB is supporting disability-inclusive projects in Bhutan such as the Skills Training and Education Pathways Upgradation Project (STEPUP), which helps PWDs learn and improve skills to prepare them for the workforce.

Before, I never knew about spa and massage. But after joining this training, I realized we have to learn new things. It was initially difficult to study about human body anatomy including muscles, bones, and nerves. Still, I was committed to study realizing that acquiring these skills is the only way to earn my livelihood.

I am one of the fortunate ones to get this ADB-funded training in bakery. This training completely changed my life as well as the lives of 14 other PWD trainees.

Through ADB’s support, we didn’t face any logistics-related difficulties during the entire training period. We were provided a place to stay right at the training center so we won’t need to travel from other locations.

The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources has ensured that a person who uses a wheelchair like me should be able to train as easily as others.

There were adequate training materials. We gained a lot of new knowledge and learned new skills. So much so that I did not even know how fast the 5 months passed by.

However, the fact that there is no guarantee for a job after the training kept me worried during the training. As a person with a visual impairment, it is very difficult to get a job.

Rinchen now works as a massage therapist and Tandin is hopeful to have a full-time career as a baker.

Skills development for PWDs is part of ADB's human development strategy.

Human development is vital to reducing poverty and helping create a more inclusive development for Asia and the Pacific.