Switzerland extends support to Laos for its vocational training project

Lao and Swiss officials attend a meeting to close Phase 1 and introduce Phase 2 of the Vocational Training and Employment Support Services scheme. - Vientiane Times/ANN

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): Some 3,548 young Lao people have benefited from Phase 1 of the Vocational Training and Employment Support Services project supported by the government of Switzerland.

This has involved four years of vocational training and employment support, short course training, employment support for 1,263 people, and basic business training for 311 people, of whom 210 also received seed money for business start-up and coaching.

In addition, the project supported the development of new curricula and training materials for four new certificate level courses, including for the repair and maintenance of e-bikes.

Speaking at a meeting to formally close Phase 1 of the project last week, Deputy Minister of Education and Sports, Dr Sourioudong Sundara, said the project would now enter the second phase, building on the success of the first stage.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Head of Inclusive and Economic Development, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Ms Adeline Aubry, and attended by more than 70 stakeholders from local and central government agencies.

The main objective of the meeting was to learn about the results and the challenges encountered and the knowledge gained from the project’s first phase, which ran from July 2019 to November 2023, to learn about the activities and targets and to propose recommendations for the forthcoming phase of four years which began in December.

Despite the obstacles caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and socio-economic changes, the project made significant progress in enhancing access to quality training and employment support.

The successful implementation of the first phase reflects the dedicated efforts of project partners from the central and local governments, Non-Profit Associations, the private sector, and the Vocational Training and Employment Support Services team.

Dr Sourioudong said “The Swiss Government has shown trust in the project and, therefore, continues to support the second phase. On behalf of the government, I urge our governor officers to continue assisting the project’s activities over the next four years.”

“The support of this project is well aligned with local labour needs in each province, helping us to achieve our goals. I also extend my gratitude to all others who have contributed to the success of this first phase and express my special thanks to the SDC for their unwavering support in training and employment over the years.”

The Vocational Training and Employment Support Services project is managed by the Lao and Swiss governments and funded through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

It is implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the Swisscontact consortium, and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Initially implemented in the provinces of Oudomxay, Xayaboury, Xieng Khuang, Khammuan and Saravan, the project, now entering its second phase, has also added the capital Vientiane to its project location.

The Vocational Training and Employment Support Services project is a continuation of long-term assistance from Switzerland to enable young Lao adults and people from marginalised groups to find their way into the job market. - Vientiane Times/ANN

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