Mobile skills trainers to the rescue

Uwe Gartenschlaeger, Laos 







Uwe Gartenschlaeger is the regional director of DVV International in Southeast Asia. The Institute is working with “mobile skills trainers” in Laos, aiming to improve the livelihoods of poor villagers.

Adult Education and Development: DVV International has been sending out mobile skills trainers to remote ­areas in Laos. Can you give us a little bit of context about the living situation in these areas?

Uwe Gartenschlaeger: These are remote villages, which are classified by the Lao Government as extremely poor. Villagers are engaged mainly in subsistence farming. Many of them belong to ethnic minorities, and the drop-out rate from primary and secondary school is high. As the villages are far from the nearest larger settlement, it is impossible for the villagers to receive skills training, which in the case of Laos are exclusively concentrated in formal TVET schools located in bigger settlements.

What is a mobile skills trainer, and what does he or she do?

These are regular teachers from formal TVET schools. Two of them visit the target villages and discuss with the village authorities the need for skills training, offering the entire portfolio of their TVET school. After that, they design tailor-made training courses of up to two weeks and implement them in the villages. Our experience shows that agricultural skills, the basics of electricity, small engine repairs, tailoring and some construction trades are most popular. More than half of the training is dedicated to practical skills. It is an attempt to bring skills training to the people, as the majority of villagers are not able to join extended skills training in centralised schools far away from their fields and families.

You commissioned a tracer study on this programme in 2017. What were the most important results in your opinion?

The study proves that villagers are interested in this kind of training, and that formal TVET schools are able to deliver it through mobile skills trainers. More than that, it turned out that two years after the training courses were conducted, improvements in livelihood could be measured (e.g. better nutrition), and a better income was even observed in some cases – although it is a bit risky to identify the training as the main reason for improved income! However, the study proved that mobile skills training is a cost-effective way to deliver needs-orientated TVET to the most marginalised!

How do you think this impact can be made sustainable?

These kinds of training courses should be integrated into the official TVET delivery system. We at DVV International took on the role of demonstrating the effectiveness and impact of these approaches, but it is up to the government to offer these formats on a regular basis and countrywide! We are currently working on mainstreaming mobile skills training within the TVET sector.

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