Author Archives: adbskillsdevelopment

Nepal Post Earthquake Diary 1. Reopening schools. Shanti Jagannathan

IMG_1815 IMG_1802

Soni is a student of Sri Sundar Suryodaya Primary School labeled ‘unsafe in a bold red sign, following a 7.8 earthquake that rocked Nepal a month ago. Most of the school, atop a picturesque hill, has crumbled to the ground. In district Kavre, where the school is located, 548 of the 594 schools with over 100,000 students have been affected by the earthquake. In neighboring Sindhupalchok district schools are in dire straits- over 80% of classrooms are completely damaged.

IMG_1744Just a little over a month after the devastating earthquake, schools all over the country are set to re open on 31st May. This is irrespective of the widespread destruction of physical facilities. Communities are still grappling with loss of shelters, assets and shifting earth and landslides. Yet, the one thing everyone wants –poor parents in rural areas or affluent parents in Kathmandu – is the early re-opening of schools and resumption of education. Restoring education is synonymous with reviving hope and normalcy. Just how is this to be done?

With about 8000 schools affected and 30000 classrooms completely destroyed, the government of Nepal aims to set up 15000 transitional learning centers (TLCs) to resume education immediately. The Head Teacher of the Sri Sundar Suryodaya School Nur Prasad Bajnayi said that the school will reopen on 31 March if only for teachers and students greet each other. Re-opening of schools signals resilience. It was astonishing for me to note that this spirit ran through everyone that we spoke to – teachers, students, administrators, teacher unions and officials from the Ministry of Education.

The resumption of schooling is a critical component of psychological recovery. Reconstruction and retrofitting of school buildings may take 2-3 years. Transitional arrangements for uninterrupted delivery of education services are crucial in order not to lose gains from past education investments. International evidence warns us that interruption of education services for a significant length of time can lead to major losses in terms of possible student drop outs.

Some key issues that need consideration as education is getting restored in Nepal;

  • Ensuring that Transitional Learning Centers approximate as much as possible a real school environment; the introduction of ‘creative sciences’, outdoor exploratory activities and sports would help children come out of trauma. There is an opportunity to renew pedagogic processes and create models of ‘classrooms without walls’.
  • Adjusting the school time table to front load holidays and catch up on the lost days of schooling which will no doubt be the case
  • Building back better not only with disaster resilient features in construction but also with stimulating learning environments within schools
  • Helping teachers with appropriate tools, techniques and resources so that they are better equipped themselves to help children
  • Strengthening connectivity and ICT solutions – only 6000 schools in Nepal have electricity. Fewer have connectivity. Providing some of the cluster schools with connectivity will tremendously enhance the availability of resources to teachers.

Returning to the school sector in Nepal after 5 years exactly one month after the earthquake, it was wonderful to reconnect with old friends in government and elsewhere. But even more wonderful was to encounter positive and forward looking views in the midst of bleak surroundings. The District Education Officer at Karve, Dipendra Gurung, despite a damaged district education office, hosted a meeting in a temporary structure. He spoke about philosophy and meditation and for each one to do their best to restore education services. I hope we the development partners can match the resilient spirit of the Nepalese.

IMG_1827Suvakamana Nepal!

Skills For Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia-Pacific : Call to Action by Youth

In the recent ADB International Skills Development Forum 2013, a strong youth contingent was invited for the first time to join deliberations. Over 40 youth with diverse backgrounds came from 10 countries. They enriched discussions by sharing their concerns and viewpoints on skills and jobs and what is required to ensure good jobs. When we challenged them to come up with what they could themselves undertake, the energetic and creative group of youth came up with the following. Well done!                             Shanti Jagannathan

We, the youth participants of the 3rd International Skills Development Forum gathered on 10th-12th December 2013 in Manila, Philippines,

strongly believe that the time has come for the international community to work together to make the world of decent work accessible to all, where every young person can avail equal opportunities.

Youth face clear and distinct issues that impede them from making informed career choices, reaching their full potential, and living a happy and successful life. In the Asia-Pacific region, 6 out of 10 young people have no jobs, are not in school, or are engaged in irregular employment. We, the youth of the region, struggle in an environment that has fostered skills mismatch, urban and rural divide, weak youth entrepreneurship, and unsecure jobs in both the formal and informal sector. If this continues, current and future generations will be confined to a poorer quality of life and remembered as the lost generation

We recognize the impact ICT has on revolutionizing opportunities for youth.

To reverse the current trends, youth must be educated, empowered, and engaged. We commit ourselves to:

  1. Develop and encourage extra-curricular activities and youth-inspired opportunities that enable youth to practice life skills and leadership;
  2. Participate and execute peer-to-peer mentorships for personal growth and career guidance;
  3. Organize youth-friendly job fairs, especially on green and ICT-based jobs;
  4. Patronize and promote youth-led enterprises;
  5. Organize and execute a youth-led dialogue that brings together youth, government and private sector to talk about issues on employment;
  6. Advocate and serve as a resource to the international institutions and labor ministries on the need for a public information dissemination campaign about decent work;

In addition to the specific actionable items that the youth will undertake, we call upon the following stakeholders to seriously consider the following recommendations:

  • We encourage greater and more meaningful collaboration between youth, relevant government ministries, and private sector.
  • We encourage greater collaboration between private sector and education institutions in curriculum-design and career-guidance.
  • We encourage greater emphasis on entrepreneurship in all levels of formal and non-formal education, and making youth-friendly financial resources accessible.
  • We encourage incentives for businesses that promote decent work opportunities for youth.
  • We urge the private sector to stand up and be the face of change in making digital literacy accessible to rural youth.
  • We encourage government and private agencies to include youth advisors in programs and policies that impact youth.

We applaud the Asian Development Bank and Plan International for their continued commitment to inclusive dialogue. We call upon the international community to intensify its commitment to deliver its promise of decent work and equitable opportunities for youth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mediactiv8: My Life After The 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum

Mediactiv8: My Life After The 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum.

My Top 10 Lessons From The 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum

Here is a post by a youth delegate at the ADB skills development forum. Awesome energy from the youth!

Youth and Skills Development: 12 Things to Know

This fact sheet is prepared in the lead up to the ADB International Skills Development Forum. Shanti Jagannathan and Benjamin Vergel de Dios

1.         Young people have power to make or break their country’s economy. About 2 million youths are now entering the Bangladesh job market annually but nearly 90% of them end up in poorly paid informal work. Low skills of the workforce is undermining productivity and weighing on attempts to diversify the economy. Source: ADB News: $500 Million Loan Targets Skills-driven Secondary Education for Bangladesh

2.         Investing in girls brings good socio-economic returns. The United Nations estimates that the region loses more than $40 billion per year as a result of gender gaps in education and women’s limited access to employment opportunities.Source: ADB News: Skill Training for Women and Girls the Focus of ADB Seminar

3.         Young people are at the center of India’s inclusive growth strategies. The low employability of India’s work force is affecting the competitiveness of its economy. Of India’s total youth population, 57% suffer from some degree of unemployability.

Source: ADB Project Document: Supporting Human Capital Development in Meghalaya

4.         Youth running out of reasons to smile. Global adult unemployment rate is at 4.5% but global youth unemployment is three times more (12.6%). Youth say they can’t find jobs because they do not have “experience, skills, contacts, awareness of job availability and means to travel to find work”.

Source: GSMA and Alcatel-Lucent Study on Mobile Services for Youth Employment

5.         TVET institutions need new learning paradigms. Time to explore the 70-20-10 formula of learning – 70% on-the-job development and real life experiences, 20 % through coaching and self improvement and 10% through structured instructor-led trainings and e-Learning.

Source: ADB-Springer Book on Skills Development for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia-Pacific

6.         Asia-Pacific should not ignore Not in Education, Employment or Training-NEET. Globally, there are 357.7 million youth not in education, employment of training, with 62% in South Asia (101 million) and East Asia and Pacific (119.4 million).

Source: World Economic Forum

7.         You are in trouble if you are a girl, poor and living in a rural area.  Location, gender and wealth disparities affect acquisition of ‘foundation skills’.  Almost all boys and girls from rick households in the Philippines acquire foundation skills but only 56% girls and 35% boys from poor backgrounds do. In Pakistan, almost 50% of rural females will not get any education at all.

Source: EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012 – Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work

8.         Underemployment is as serious as unemployment. In 2010, 536 million working youth in the developing world were underemployed – more than half of them live in South Asia (152 million) and East Asia and the Pacific (150 million). As many as 200 million working youth earn less than US$ 2 a day.

Source: World Economic Forum

9.         Employers say youth are not prepared for the world of work: youth agree but their educators and trainers do not.  Only 42% employers and 45% youth surveyed said youth were not prepared for the world of work, whereas an overwhelming 72% of education and training providers believed they are.

Source:  McKinsey and Co. Education to Employment: Designing System that Works

10.       Every young person deserves a second chance in education. UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012 reveals around 200 million young people need a second chance to acquire the basic literacy and numeracy skills, which are essential to learning further skills for work. Some 91 million of them live in South and West Asia.

Source: EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012 – Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work

11.       Youth entrepreneurship can remedy youth unemployment. OECD says it can be part of the solution. 40% of youth aged 15-24 years and say self-employment is feasible. More males (34%) than females (24%) believe they can make themselves self-employed.

Source: OECD Policy Brief

12.       Youth demand hands-on training and do not get enough. Fifty-eight percent of surveyed youth agreed that “practical, hands-on learning is an effective approach to training”. However, only 24% of academic graduates and 37% vocational graduates said they get this in their respective institutions.

Source: McKinsey and Co. Education to Employment: Designing System that Works

ICT and Skills Development: 12 Things to Know. Shanti Jagannathan

This fact sheet is prepared in the lead up to the ADB International Skills Development Forum. Shanti Jagannathan and Benjamin Vergel de Dios

1.      ICT is a foundation for a knowledge economy. Investments in ICT for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) will help to meet the demand for a skilled, “ICT-capable” labor force, which is the hallmark of a country transitioning to a knowledge economy.

Source: ADB Publication: Good Practice in ICT for Education

2.       An “app” to help the unemployed. Codetoki is a platform that matches employers and applicants through a gamified platform and addresses the Philippine’s challenge of high unemployment”. Codetoki is one of the winners of Apps for Asia, a joint initiative of ADB and Microsoft.

Source: ADB News: Apps for Asia Winners Featured at ADB Annual Meeting

3.      ICT for gender equity. Viet Nam is struggling to meet the demand for qualified specialized technical workers. Just 13% of the employable workforce has vocational qualifications. The ADB Skills Enhancement Project includes training ICT, hospitality and tourism where women are well represented.

Source: ADB News: ADB to Help Viet Nam Improve Technical Training to Meet Skill Shortages

4.      ICT skills as fuel for IT-BPO growth. Access to educated human resources at low cost, fiscal incentives, and the development of industrial parks have been key factors underlying the expansion of the IT-BPO export industry in the PRC, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Source: ADB Economics Working Paper Series: The Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing Industry: Diversity and Challenges in Asia

5.      Hunan leading online TVET programs in the PRC. Online TVET and e-learning provide an opportunity to reach out to remote and rural areas with high quality media and content and to improve course quality and delivery.

Source: ADB Project Document: Hunan Technical and Vocational Education and Training Demonstration Project

6.      ICT can help economies move beyond ‘Factory Asia’. Connectivity, both physical and human, can allow the Asian region take advantage of its expanding economic and social network, enhancing job opportunities and improving their welfare.

Source: ADB Blog: Moving beyond factory Asia: How to leverage regional dynamics to unlock growth potential

7.      A deaf person uses a mobile phone; a blind person browses a website. Through “assistive technologies”, TVET providers can facilitate job-skills training and even provide employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities.

Source: Connect a School, Connect a Community: A Public-Private Partnership

8.      Mobiles can connect disadvantaged women to skills training and gainful employment. The use of mobile phones and the organization of community ICT centers are making these possible and breaking gender barriers in many developing countries.

Source: Connect a School, Connect a Community: A Public-Private Partnership

9.      TeleTaleem Project in Pakistan offers web-based job searches and career counselling. ADB supported TeleTaleem (T2) is an eLearning service. In partnership with international training institutes (like City & Guild UK), T2 offers accredited training programs as well as links to jobsites and career counseling. T2 also connects junior trainers to master trainers located anywhere in Pakistan or abroad.

Source: ADB Project Document: TeleTaleem Project

10.    ICT eliminates geographical and language barriers to make relevant and quality content available. In Cambodia, a NGO aims to connect all public and private vocational training centers so that all of them can access the best available TVET resources (e.g. videos/lesson plans in local language) and assist TVET instructors (e.g. video-conferencing).

          Source: Connected Schools

11.    ICT skills increase success of youth entrepreneurs.  According to the evaluation of the HP LIFE program, ICT use is correlated with increased income for both entrepreneurs and employees.

Source: Youth Economic Opportunities

12.    TVET graduates need Digital Literacy and Digital Competency to increase their employability. There are four levels of Digital Proficiency: Digital awareness; Digital Literacy; Digital Competence; and Digital Expertise. Without digital literacy “individuals will find it difficult to carry out common tasks that arise in the workplace or society, and are at risk of exclusion”.  

Source: ECDL Foundation

YOUTH SKILLS AND JOBS: Careers Education and Employment Services

This is the fifth of a five-part article series by Dr David Smawfield, an international expert on technical and vocational education and training, exploring different dimensions of youth skills development for jobs and employability. This discourse leads up to the ADB International Skills Development Forum in Manila from 10-12 December 2013. Edited, Shanti Jagannathan, ADB.

It is now recognized that in addition to skills development, there is need for ancillary support such as employment services, career guidance, job placement services and back to work programs to bridge the distance between training and productive employment. These cannot be provided by government alone and there is need for partnerships between the private sector and service providers with training institutions.

An OECD publication of 2009 titled ‘Relationship of Career Guidance to VET draws distinctions between ‘career counselling’ which is a one-to-one dialogue; ‘career education’ which is a curriculum offering; and ‘career information’, which can be provided in various formats.  The report argues that career guidance is relevant to the quality and effectiveness of VET at two distinct stages: prior to entering a VET programme and within the VET programme. In respect of the former creating awareness of options and providing support to make informed choices are important principles. Careers guidance within programmes should be available at all key decision points and on exit. It also has an important role to play in helping students to understand the transferability of their skills and options open to them.

Achieving greater clarity on all of the above concepts can be an important part of formulating an appropriate development response.  Developed and developing countries are engaged in putting appropriate initiatives in place.

Employment services have a vital role to play in easing the transition from school to work and much can be done to enhance their functions through developmental interventions. As an example of what can be possible, the recently concluded EC funded ‘Labour Market Information Project’ in Vietnam included the reinvigoration of ‘Jobs Centres’, including their full computerization and the development of the capacity of staff to generate and analyse data. According to a final evaluation, this resulted in the production of a ‘treasure trove’ of important data for skills manpower planning. It highlighted, for example, a set of occupational areas that comprised the easiest vacancies to fill (suggesting skills oversupply) and a set of occupational areas that were most difficult to fill (suggesting skills under-supply, with attendant implications for training programme response). It was also recognized by project stakeholders that this kind of information was of vital importance for feeding back into careers guidance work: helping young people to make informed decisions about where their best opportunities lie. Reinvigorated job centres are also now bringing together employers seeking recruits and those looking for work. One means of achieving this is the organization of regular ‘jobs fairs’, in which employers make presentations and do their interviewing and recruiting at the jobs centre.

Australia’s employment service system delivers unemployment-related assistance to approximately 1.6m Australians annually. These services are delivered through Jobs Services Australia (JSA) by more than 100 contracted providers at more than 2,000 sites across Australia. This crucial support is enabled through the large investment made by the federal government, approximately $1.3b per annum. A recent paper on reforming employment assistance in Australia argues for a comprehensive re-design of the system from 2015, favoring a truly competitive market for employment services provided by a range of private contractors.

YOUTH SKILLS AND JOBS: The Informal Sector

This is the fourth of a five-part article series by Dr David Smawfield, an international expert on technical and vocational education and training, exploring different dimensions of youth skills development for jobs and employability. This discourse leads up to the ADB International Skills Development Forum in Manila from 10-12 December 2013.  Edited, Shanti Jagannathan, ADB.

In developing economies, the informal sector employs a large proportion of the working population often approaching and even exceeding 90% of the economically active work force.    Skills development strategies are often not tailored to the needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who may not have sufficient resources for training. A major tool to increase productivity and competitiveness of SMEs is through appropriate skills development.

The informal sector is mostly made up of micro- and small enterprises. Small businesses find it difficult to release key employees to undertake training away from the job. The opportunity costs for the learner may also be high. Limited cash flow for training is an associated constraint. Workers in SMEs have multiple skilling needs – in some cases, know-how on financial, business and marketing aspects of a trade or enterprise may be just as important, if not more so, than technical training.

A key policy dilemma is where to put the emphasis in the informal sector: training those without employment to help them become economically active; or training those with businesses and employment to be more economically productive. Equity considerations may favour the former. However, anecdotal evidence from programme and project experience suggests the latter can be powerful to increase productivity of enterprises.

With regard to skills upgrading in the informal sector, a number of approaches have been held to show promise:

  • Encouragement of ‘recognition of prior learning and experience’. This allows informal sector workers to gain credence for their experience for further skills upgrading and progression to higher order jobs, including in the formal sector.
  • NGOs and some private sector providers have a good track record at reaching the ‘hardest to reach’ in the informal sector. Policies need to specifically acknowledge and support such training provision and delivery by non-government channels.  Equally, provision of training vouchers for informal sector workers to access formal institutional training must be encouraged.
  • Flexible learning approaches could be great importance for effective training delivery to informal sector workers, such as modular approaches where higher competencies can be built up over a period of time.

A recent World Bank Research Report on Improving Skills Development in the Informal Sector, while focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, has key findings that can also be applicable for Asia. The report stresses that apprenticeships are the most important form of skills development in the informal sector and efforts are needed to improve their efficiency. It is acknowledged that to some extent, skills development in the informal sector remains a remedial activity that compensates for inadequate quality basic and secondary education. Countries need to explicitly incorporate skills development in the informal sector more firmly in the policy agenda.

An OECD report on Skills Development Pathways in Asia also finds that developing countries in Asia commonly face a lack of skills development in SMEs, especially internal training. This phenomenon has not been effectively addressed in donor partnerships either.  The report advocates the development of local skills ecosystems that bind organizations, institutions and firms in a certain local area or labor market in area-based partnerships for training and skills development. There are many advantages in putting more emphasis on devolving more responsibility and resources for partnership development to the local level.

On the one hand, the scale of investments for skills development in the informal sector needs to match the need of the sector. On the other hand, innovative and alternative routes to traditional training are also required.

YOUTH SKILLS AND JOBS: Foundation and Transferable Skills

This is the third of a five-part article series by Dr David Smawfield, an international expert on technical and vocational education and training, exploring different dimensions of youth skills development for jobs and employability. This discourse leads to the ADB International Skills Development Forum in Manila from 10-12 December 2013. Edited, Shanti Jagannathan, ADB.

The 2012 Global Monitoring Report on Education says that: ‘People need foundation skills to stand a chance of getting jobs that pay decent wages and becoming a productive force in the economy’. It argues that these skills are best acquired through formal education and policies and practices should encourage young people to stay longer in formal education. Foundation skills usually refer to language literacy and numeracy.

In developing countries in Asia, the lack of adequate foundation skills makes vocational training less effective. As per UNESCO, in East Asia and the Pacific, over 28 million people aged 15 to 24 have not even completed primary school and need alternative pathways to acquire basic skills for employment. It is well known that South Asia is home to the world’s largest numbers of adult illiterates. When the attainment levels of the work force are below secondary or even primary education, skills development institutions are challenges to remedy the lack of adequate foundation skills. This is not only a matter of concern for developing countries.

A recent report by the Australian Industry Group finds that 93% of surveyed employers identified a wide range of impacts on their businesses from low level literacy and numeracy skills. Raising the levels of workforce foundation skills is identified as an urgent national priority to life the Australian economy’s productivity.

Yet, strengthening foundation skills are not included as an important priority in skills development institutions. This despite findings in skills audits that the technical skill associated with a vocation is rarely more than half of overall skill requirements required: both in terms of effective performance in the work place, and with regard to what employers are looking for when recruiting.

Lack of adequate of foundation skills combined with poor life skills (referred to in a number of ways such as transferable skills, 21st century skills, soft skills – problem solving skills, creativity, work ethics, inter-personal skills and ability to work in teams and so on) further impede skills development on a continuum and at the work place.  Specific examples of the types of attributes in high demand among employers include: the ability to think critically and creatively, process information, make decisions, manage conflict, and work in teams. Furthermore, in many vocational and professional contexts, competences associated with the following are gaining ground in importance – management, leadership, information and digital technology management, negotiation, selling, marketing and public relations.

An Asia Society Report on partnership for global learning suggests that students are not learning 21st century skills because they are not explicitly taught, the traditional method of teaching is not suited for teaching such skills and adequate methods to assess learning of 21st century skills are not universally available.

What are the implications that skills development and training institutions need to consider?

  • The teaching of foundation skills in a remedial context. This can be through separate programs or through opportunities to practice and further develop literacy and numeracy skills that have supposedly been already acquired. This will help to strengthen the uptake of higher order skills development. At the same time, efforts need to be made to strengthen language and mathematics teaching in secondary schools
  • Diversification of content. The explicit inclusion of transferable and life skills in a systematic way to the basket of foundation+ skills would help to maximize returns

  • Use of modern pedagogies.  Emphasis on active learning, cooperative learning and group work, constructivist and communicative approaches are far more conducive to the development of foundation skills than traditional classroom teaching.

  • ncreased use of ICT. At one level, ICT competence is increasingly regarded as a life skill in its own right. In addition, modern and contemporary approaches to training can be facilitated through ICT.  skills can again be developed through two different strategies, neither of which needs to be mutually exclusive. The first option is to offer a separate ICT module as a mandatory part of any more narrowly defined vocational training programme. The second option is to increase the use of ICT as part of the way the vocational content is itself transacted, in order that hands on experience is gained and skills and knowledge to do with ICT are developed.

Winners announced in Plan-Asian Development Bank youth reporter contest

We are pleased to announce the selection of 9 brilliant youths from across the region in Asia who are winners of a Youth Reporters’ Initiative contest we held by Plan International and the Asian Development Bank.

Young people from 9 countries in Asia were invited to showcase their talent and creativity under the theme of “Skills Development and Employment for the iGen”.  The Youth were asked to respond in a creative and original way to the question of what skills and programmes young people need to succeed in finding and keeping a job in the modern world.

They could select any medium to present their stories including an article, a life story, audio or video material, an interview or a drawing. The key was that the submission demonstrated the realities of what it’s like being a young person and the challenges and opportunities of gaining the skills needed for getting a job. We’ll be showcasing the winning entries soon.

Next stop for the winners? The ADB International Skills Development Forum in Manila from 9-12 December 2013. The fantastic 9 will join a number of other youths from the Philippines and get a chance to take part in a dialogue with key regional players.

Congrats to Md S (Bangladesh), Khin S (Cambodia), Pu R (China), Amit K (India), Siti W (Indonesia), Shahid I (Pakistan), W.M.A. D (Sri Lanka), Chakrapan C (Thailand), Ngoc (Vietnam).

Adapted from