ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Lao govt vows to address labour shortage
State-owned vocational schools in Laos will accept more students in this academic year amid a rising demand for skilled labour, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Technical and Vocational Education Department director general Nouphanh Outsa said yesterday that over 20 state-owned technical and vocational schools around the country will accept 15,000 students this year, about 1,000 more than they did last year.
The number of students studying at vocational schools is expected to increase over the next few years to meet the demand of the labour market, he said.
He said that the ministry's decision to accept more students into vocational education programmes was also part of the ministry's development plan to boost skilled labour from 2010 to 2015.
“Accepting more students will produce more skilled human resources in preparation for integration with the Asean Economic Community in 2015,” he said.
“The vocational courses provide skills to suit the needs of the labour market and give young students the expertise needed for the development of their communities.”
To meet market demand the vocational schools have introduced new courses including mining, electrical engineering, construction, electronics, auto mechanics, hospitality and other related subjects, for which Laos is currently facing a shortage.
Courses can improve the students' chances of setting up a business and are offered as either a two or three year programme.
With support from the Asian Development Bank, the ministry provides financial incentives for the students so as to encourage them to study at vocational schools.
At present, most of the secondary school graduates do not want to go to vocational schools as they believe that they will not get good jobs.
Some also think that if they finish vocational schools, they will end up working as labourers.
Demand for skilled labour saw a rapid increase over the past few years thanks to the government policy to promote foreign investment. At present a number of foreign firms are having to import foreign labour due to a shortage in the domestic supply.
Besides state-owned vocational institutes, the ministry plans to encourage the private sector to build vocational collages and schools in order to produce skilled labour to help develop national socio-economic growth.
At present, there are over 80 private vocational institutes around the country offering courses on business, IT, agriculture and other related subjects
These institutes also offer opportunities for school leavers to attend short or long-term courses locally, according to the department.
Although student numbers entering vocational education have gradually increased over the past few years, Laos is still suffering from a lack of skilled labour.
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