“Many solutions to achieve the quality breakthrough in TVET have been identified since the 1st Regional TVET Conference in Hanoi in October 2012”, Prof. Dr Cao Van Sam, Deputy Director General, General Directorate of Vocational Training (GDVT), Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) emphasized at the opening plenary session of the 4th Regional TVET conference in Naypyitaw in Myanmar taking place from 13th -15th June 2017. The conference, themed “Improving TVET – Priorities for sustainable Growth in ASEAN”, was jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Prof. Dr Sam continued his input to the opening dialogue panel, focusing on reflecting the past three regional conferences, stating that “we [the Vietnamese government] confirmed the necessity to promote and strengthen TVET and the then Deputy Prime Minister ensured the highest commitment of the Vietnamese government to promote TVET in the region”. Since 2012, five major achievements have been accomplished, but challenges remain, Prof. Dr Sam honestly admitted to the conference’s audience, consisting of over 250 participants from 23 countries, representing the private and public sector, donor organisations and international institutions.
The major achievements that Prof. Dr Sam identified are 1) the implementation of enhanced demand-driven training and closer cooperation with the labour market through piloting vocational training in cooperation with enterprises and a number of other stakeholders; 2) the improvement of the Quality Assurance System; 3) the improvement of the TVET personnel’s quality; 4) a better match of the labour force and the industrialisation agenda of the country and 5) the set-up of a favourable legal framework, e.g. the new VET Law which was passed in 2015 as an important step to enhance demand-driven training that has been realised with German assistance.
However, Prof Dr Sam also highlighted three main challenges that Viet Nam is facing: 1) The requirement to involve the business sector in TVET, being even more challenging in light of Industry 4.0 and ever faster technological development; 2) the mismatch between the demand for higher quality TVET and the limited infrastructural conditions of some TVET institutes in Viet Nam with the effect that cooperative training is only piloted and not up scaled yet and 3) Viet Nam having a broad network of TVET institutes, while the capacity of many of these institutes remains in question.
On the second day of the conference, the above mentioned challenges, especially the involvement of the business sector was discussed in the breakout session on “Strengthening the involvement of business and industry in TVET”. The breakout session aimed to provide an insight on Cooperative Training as one mode of strengthening the involvement of business and industry in TVET in development and delivery of training offers as well as assessment and certification. A holistic business sector involvement in these crucial steps ensures the demand-orientation of training, ultimately leading to better employability of TVET graduates. Associations, the mouthpiece of the respective business sectors, can play a pivotal role in Cooperative Training in various aspects and to different extents. The session introduced two good practices from Viet Nam and Pakistan, focusing on associations and their role in strengthening the involvement of business and industry through Cooperative Training.
Dr Vu Xuan Hung focused in his input on the question why the business sector should be involved in the development, implementation as well as assessment and certification of training offers and how this involvement has been piloted in the wastewater sector in Viet Nam. Additionally, Dr. Hung gave a short introduction to Cooperative Training and its key features. Finally, he presented necessary preconditions for the state, TVET institutes and the business sector to successfully cooperate in TVET. Dr Hung stressed that regulation is necessary to successfully cooperate with the business sector but that overregulation and standardisation needs to be avoided in order to ensure flexibility to answer to challenges in TVET such as Industry 4.0.
Dr Nguyen Thi Hang, rector of Ho Chi Minh College of Technology 2 (HVCT 2), reported about the cooperation between her TVET institute, the business sector (municipal waste water companies and the Vietnam Water Supply and Sewerage Association) as well as the responsible state authorities. She presented lessons learnt and recommendations drawn from the piloted Cooperative Training for ”Sewage Engineering Technicians”. Furthermore, Dr Hang shared her impressions on the possibilities for up-scaling Cooperative Training in the sector and replication in other business sectors, thereby highlighting the potential important role of sector associations. She stressed that “while the TVET institute is responsible for didactics and methodology, it is the business sector that provides the skills and practical knowledge” in order to ensure successful development, delivery as well as assessment and certification of TVET.
Assoc. Prof. Dr Nguyen Hong Tien, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Water Supply and Sewerage Association (VWSA) focused in his presentation on the potential benefits for associations to become involved in Cooperative Training. He shared VWSA’s experiences in supporting member companies in developing the occupational standard and training programme of the “Sewage Engineering Technician”, implementing the training and preparing for the assessments. Finally, Mr. Tien confirmed the return of investment for member companies and the added value for the TVET authority due to the involvement of the sector association in Cooperative Training.
In the closing panel, Mr Shyamal Majumdar, Head of the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training underlined that one of the major successes since the 1st Regional TVET conference in Hanoi the awareness of importance and closer cooperation with the business sector in TVET. Other successes include improved TVET governance through legal frameworks as well as first initiatives dealing with digitalisation and specifically Industry 4.0.