Bhutan: Skills Training and Education Pathways Upgradation Project

Sovereign Project | 50296-002

The project will support the government in expanding and upgrading the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system for modern, diversified, and job-oriented skills development. Bhutan, a landlocked country with a population of 780,000, has made great strides in basic education, and it now needs to accelerate the development of a skilled workforce to meet the economic needs for competitiveness and sustained growth. Bhutan's Twelfth Five-Year Plan, 2018 2023 prioritizes skills development for jobs.

Project Details

Project Name Skills Training and Education Pathways Upgradation Project
Project Number 50296-002
Country Bhutan
Project Status Active
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Grant
Source of Funding / Amount
Grant 0596-BHU: Skills Training and Education Pathways Upgradation Project
Asian Development Fund US$ 15.00 million
Strategic Agendas Environmentally sustainable growth
Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change Gender Equity and Mainstreaming
Knowledge solutions
Private sector development
Sector / Subsector

Education / Education sector development - Technical and vocational education and training

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Effective gender mainstreaming
Description The project will support the government in expanding and upgrading the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system for modern, diversified, and job-oriented skills development. Bhutan, a landlocked country with a population of 780,000, has made great strides in basic education, and it now needs to accelerate the development of a skilled workforce to meet the economic needs for competitiveness and sustained growth. Bhutan's Twelfth Five-Year Plan, 2018 2023 prioritizes skills development for jobs.
Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

Bhutan made impressive progress in socioeconomic development over 2007 2017 and its economy grew at an average annual rate of 7.7%. The country doubled its per capita gross domestic product and halved the poverty rate. However, such rapid development was largely driven by the capital-intensive hydropower sector and did not lead to adequate job creation. Economic diversification and job creation are among the top priorities of the government.

Bhutan faces high youth unemployment. The youth unemployment rate of 13.2% in 2016 was 6 times the average national unemployment rate and has been rising in recent years. At the same time, employers find it difficult to recruit skilled workers. Skills shortages are one of the critical constraints to the growth of the private sector and diversification of the economy. According to the National Workforce Plan, 2016 2022, based on a survey of employers in three priority sectors (construction, tourism, and production), more than 33% of employers face skills shortages, impacting on productivity and business performance. The National Workforce Plan estimates over 78,000 jobs will be generated by the construction, tourism, and manufacturing sectors during 2016 2022. In 2017, over 14,000 new secondary and tertiary education graduates entered the labor market. Equipping these new graduates with market-oriented skills needed by industry will help reduce the skills shortages.

Challenges in skills development. The skills development system in Bhutan faces constraints in access. In 2016, only 6.9% of grade 10 students enrolled in TVET. The current annual intake capacity of the public technical training institutes (TTIs) is limited, catering to only about 635 students, compared to the over 3,000 grade 10 graduates and nearly 6,000 grade 12 graduates entering the workforce in 2016. The TTIs offer courses mostly at the basic certificate level and in traditional areas (e.g., electrical, mechanical, welding, automobile, masonry, plumbing, and carpentry) mostly associated with manual work, which is not preferred by youth mainly because of the low social recognition for this type of work. Training for emerging occupations, including service sector jobs such as information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services, food and beverage, tourism and hospitality, media and communication, and food processing, is required. Outdated and dysfunctional equipment in TTIs is in dire need of replacement. Trainers lack capacity and professional development. There is a need for career guidance with exposure to the world of work to increase awareness of school students and parents of skills development opportunities leading to jobs.

Skills development in the country also faces the challenge of lack of quality and relevance. An estimated 80% of training programs are delivered at the basic certificate level, which does not command much market value. There is a shortage of middle and advanced skills, with demand largely met by foreign workers. Such a shortage will constrain the continued advancement of Bhutan and its ability to deliver sustainable jobs to its predominantly young population. The government recognizes the need for enhancing the capacities of trainers through in-service training programs and international collaborations in TVET. It aims to provide IT-based teaching and learning processes in schools and TTIs to adequately prepare the country's youth for an increasingly digital marketplace. Schools are preponderantly geared to academic education without sufficient preparation for the world of work. Labor market surveys reveal that Bhutanese youth do not possess the skills that employers are looking for, which gives rise to skills mismatches. Partnerships with private sector training providers to deliver market-relevant courses will help address such mismatches and improve job placements.

Opportunities in skills development. The government attaches great importance to skills development for jobs and is highly committed to improving the TVET sector. A number of policy documents provide the basis for this. The TVET Blueprint, 2016 2026 articulates the vision for improving and transforming the skills development system. The Education Blueprint, 2014 2024 outlines priorities for enhancing education quality, including strengthening TVET in schools. The Economic Development Policy of 2016 aims to diversify the economy, which requires appropriately skilled human capital. The government plans to expand capacities for TVET provision, and raise the proportion of higher secondary students enrolling in TVET to 20% by 2024 from the current 6.9%. For this, the government recognizes the need for secondary school students (grades 9 12) to have access to more diversified learning opportunities including vocational training to further pursue TVET.

Prior experience of the Asian Development Bank. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has long-standing experience in TVET and education in Bhutan. ADB financed the establishment of the TTIs, forming the backbone of public sector TVET institutions, under the Basic Skills Development Project from 2001 to 2006. The validation report by ADB's Independent Evaluation Department noted that the project was instrumental in skilling young labor market entrants to compete with expatriate labor. Areas for improvement identified include the need for course diversification, diploma courses, and institutionalized industry partnerships, which are included in this project. ADB technical assistance (TA) helped to develop the TVET Blueprint, which provides the vision for reforms and targets in the TVET sector. The government asked ADB to support its implementation.

Value added by ADB's assistance. ADB is well placed to build on past collaborations in TVET and school education. ADB's value addition will be to (i) help elevate standards in TTIs; (ii) provide green technology equipment for the delivery of existing and new courses in the TTIs; (iii) assist the government in rebranding TVET courses to attract more youth and modernizing teaching and training pedagogy; (iv) strengthen private sector engagement in the delivery of courses that are in demand in the market; and (v) demonstrate good practices in integrating TVET and career guidance in school education. The grant supports the inclusive economic growth pillar of ADB's country partnership strategy, 2014 2018 and is fully aligned with the government's Twelfth Five-Year Plan. ADB support is crucial to augment the financial and technical capacity of the government to implement the TVET Blueprint. ADB will enable a knowledge sharing forum to bring together key agencies such as Helvetas, the World Bank, the government of Australia, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency to synergize support for TVET, labor market analysis, and capacity development.

Impact Skilled human capital for equitable socioeconomic development increased
Project Outcome
Description of Outcome Employability of TVET graduates and secondary school graduates improved
Progress Toward Outcome COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the civil construction, supply of goods and delivery of trainings by private firms.
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

Access to skills development increased

Quality and relevance of skills development enhanced

Vocational orientation of secondary school students improved

Governance and institutional capacity for TVET improved

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)

Selected IT firm has started work to develop and integrate the MOLHR MIS

The partnership with ITEES Singapore is in final stage of discussion to support diploma courses.

New TTI Thimphu is expected to introduce a diploma level auto engineering course as well as new courses related to IT.

Health and safety standards be included in all trainings in TTI and TVET premier schools.

Procurement of equipment under process. Implementation of teaching and learning through use of multi-media materials is discussed with international experts recruited under ADB technical assistance.

An annual contract with RITH was signed to train 50 trainees in Food Productions (NC3). The 1st batch of 29 trainees have completed training and are being placed at various jobs. 2nd batch of 21 trainees are currently undergoing training

Outsourced training of 120 job seekers to private training providers in food production, animation, tailoring, and front office management. Most have completed training or nearing completion and sat for national-level assessment for at NC2 certification.

Work on ICT foundational skills is under progress with international experts and ICT content development for VII-X completed

TTI-Samthang infrastructure expansion under progress, 60% completed

TTI-Thimphu contract agreement signed and 5% of work completed/

Procurement of computers and lab equipment will be advertised soon. The advertisement was deferred as the suppliers were earlier not in position to submit bids due to COVID-19 lockdowns in neighboring countries.

A total of 8 people have undergone a study visit to Malaysia & Australia as part of the training of trainers in curriculum development, standards development, and assessment & certification.

6 new instructors were recruited and completed TOT-pedagogy. The next phase of TOTs will be done after completion of competency frameworks of teachers and instructors by RCSC

Elective courses were expected to commence 2020, however due to COVID-19, the school are closed. Total of 192 students in grade IX enrolled in the TVET electives ( 35.4% female, 64.5% male)

Vocational Clubs and PVOP guidelines developed in consultation with the school teachers & club coordinators.

13 junior instructors are recruited and trained in pedagogy and completed industrial attachment. They are placed in the 7 TVET premier school to start implementing the TVET electives (9 trades) starting the 2020 academic year, however the implementation is affected due to school closures due to COVID-19.

Work on career guidance is under progress with international experts advising the PIU. The visit by the international expertise's are being affected to travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.

Geographical Location Nation-wide
Safeguard Categories
Environment B
Involuntary Resettlement C
Indigenous Peoples C
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects Requisite due diligence will help to put in place mitigating measures with regard to social and environmental safeguards, while also contributing to the growth of the economy.
Involuntary Resettlement The project entails no land acquisition or resettlement. Improvements to buildings and facilities will take place within existing campus/premises. Hence social safeguards is categorized as C.
Indigenous Peoples Bhutan does not have any officially defined Indigenous peoples'. The project's inclusive lens will ensure that poor and vulnerable students from different parts of the country will have access to skills development and training. Hence IP categorization is C.
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design The main stakeholders who participated in the design and implementation of the project included the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources and Ministry of Education and various entities of the government engaged in TVET and Education policy and strategy and implementation. The private sector - industry and employers - are crucial stakeholders who will contribute to making the TVET system more responsive and credible to the market. Extensive consultation and stakeholder workshops have been held for the preparation of the TVET Blueprint. A consultative approach will be continued during project design and implementation. There are no negatively affected people expected under the project. The project will incorporate affirmative action for the benefit of girls, women and the disadvantaged. Consultations with CSOs and their partnership during implementation will be facilitated.
During Project Implementation Consultations with key stakeholders are undertaken. Example: Discussion with Royal Education Council (integration of ICT with TVET related subjects), TTI Thimphu, TTI Rangjung and TTI Thimphu on development of new courses. Discussions with Baylling Central School and Rangjung Central School.
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services An estimated 172 person-months (32 international and 140 national) of consulting services will be required to (i) facilitate project management and implementation, (ii) strengthen the institutional and operational capacity of the executing agencies and select implementing agencies, (iii) development of web-based MIS and employment portal, and (iv) conduct monitoring and evaluation studies.
Procurement Procurement (including consulting services) will follow ADB Procurement Policy (2017, as amended from time to time); and Procurement Regulations for ADB Borrowers (2017, as amended from time to time). Open Competitive Bidding (International Advertising) procedures will be used for any civil works contract estimated to cost more than $3 million, and any goods contract estimated to cost more than $1 million. Open Competitive Bidding (National Advertising) procedures may be used for any civil works contract estimated to cost $3 million or less and any goods contract estimated to cost $1 million or less. Request for quotations may be used for any civil works or goods contract estimated to cost below $100,000.
Responsible ADB Officer Hayashi, Ryotaro
Responsible ADB Department South Asia Department
Responsible ADB Division BHRM
Executing Agencies
Department of Macroeconomic Affairs, Ministry of Finance
Tashichho Dzong, Post Box No. 117
Ministry of Education
PO Box 112, Thimpu, Bhutan
Ministry of Labour and Human Resources
Thongsel Lam, P.O. Box 835
Concept Clearance 07 Dec 2017
Fact Finding 11 Apr 2018 to 20 Apr 2018
MRM 21 Jun 2018
Approval 30 Aug 2018
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 07 Oct 2020

Grant 0596-BHU

Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
30 Aug 2018 29 Nov 2018 11 Jan 2019 30 Apr 2024 - -
Financing Plan Grant Utilization
Total (Amount in US$ million) Date ADB Others Net Percentage
Project Cost 18.00 Cumulative Contract Awards
ADB 15.00 18 Nov 2021 7.52 0.00 50%
Counterpart 3.00 Cumulative Disbursements
Cofinancing 0.00 18 Nov 2021 4.61 0.00 31%

Project Data Sheets (PDS) contain summary information on the project or program. Because the PDS is a work in progress, some information may not be included in its initial version but will be added as it becomes available. Information about proposed projects is tentative and indicative.

The Access to Information Policy (AIP) recognizes that transparency and accountability are essential to development effectiveness. It establishes the disclosure requirements for documents and information ADB produces or requires to be produced.

The Accountability Mechanism provides a forum where people adversely affected by ADB-assisted projects can voice and seek solutions to their problems and report alleged noncompliance of ADB's operational policies and procedures.

In preparing any country program or strategy, financing any project, or by making any designation of, or reference to, a particular territory or geographic area in this document, the Asian Development Bank does not intend to make any judgments as to the legal or other status of any territory or area.

Safeguard Documents See also: Safeguards
Safeguard documents provided at the time of project/facility approval may also be found in the list of linked documents provided with the Report and Recommendation of the President.

Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation

None currently available.

Related Publications

None currently available.

The Access to Information Policy (AIP) establishes the disclosure requirements for documents and information ADB produces or requires to be produced in its operations to facilitate stakeholder participation in ADB's decision-making. For more information, refer to the Safeguard Policy Statement, Operations Manual F1, and Operations Manual L3.

Requests for information may also be directed to the InfoUnit.


Tender Title Type Status Posting Date Deadline
Skills Training and Education Pathways Upgradation Project Individual - Consulting Closed 09 Oct 2021 18 Oct 2021
Project Coordinator (National) Individual - Consulting Closed 08 Jul 2021 23 Jul 2021
Procurement Expert (National) for PMU Individual - Consulting Closed 25 Apr 2020 01 May 2020
International Expert for Career Guidance implementation Firm - Consulting Closed 12 May 2019 10 Jun 2019
Strengthening of MOLHR MIS Firm - Consulting Closed 24 Apr 2019 23 May 2019
National Expert for MOLHR PMU: Monitoring and Evaluation Expert Individual - Consulting Closed 31 Mar 2019 06 Apr 2019
National Expert Pool for PMU: Gender Expert Individual - Consulting Closed 08 Feb 2019 14 Feb 2019
National Expert Pool for TVET electives Development Individual - Consulting Closed 17 Jan 2019 23 Jan 2019
National Expert Pool for PMU Individual - Consulting Closed 03 Nov 2018 09 Nov 2018
Skills Development Project Firm - Consulting Closed 14 Jan 2018 12 Feb 2018

Contracts Awarded

Contract Title Approval Number Contract Date Contractor | Address Executing Agency Total Contract Amount (US$) Contract Amount Financed by ADB (US$)
STRENGTHENING OF MOLHR MIS CONSULTANT (PACKAGE CS- 08) Grant 0596 21 Jan 2020 SONAX IT CONSULTANCY | THIMPHU BHUTAN Ministry of Labour and Human Resources 211,449.78