Vocational education in Laos

Project description

Title: Vocational education in Laos (VELA)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) 
Country: Laos
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Education and Sports; Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare
Overall term: 2013 to 2018

: Students planting vegetables during practical class.  Photo credit © GIZ/ Phoonsab Thevongsa


Laos’ consistently strong economic growth over the last 10 years has raised the demand for workers of all skill levels. However, employers find it difficult to recruit the qualified people they need to meet this demand. Following the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015, Laos must ensure its people can take advantage of the new freedom of movement granted to skilled workers. With private enterprises now entitled to hire workers from all ASEAN countries, a greater flow of skilled labour is expected in the region. Without an appropriately qualified workforce of its own, Laos will find it difficult to reap the benefits of the AEC.

The country faces a number of challenges in this respect. Significant inequalities exist in accessing post-secondary education. It is especially difficult for disadvantaged groups to start and complete technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Given the high drop-out rate from secondary education, it is vital that the country can provide vocational training to out-of-school children. There are also significant shortcomings in the quality and relevance of the training provided, the standard of the vocational teaching, and the level to which employers are involved. The TVET system is still supply-driven and the subjects taught are selected with little or no consultation on the needs of the labour market.


The technical vocational education and training system in Laos has improved and meets the requirements of a modern and inclusive labour market. Marginalised students are able to take part in vocational training.

Teacher demonstrating to students in carpentry class.  Photo credit © GIZ/ Phoonsab Thevongsa


The project is co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It builds on the results and experiences of earlier Lao-German programmes in the field of vocational training and supports the creation of a National Qualification Framework.

In close cooperation with the Lao Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW), GIZ is supporting the Lao Government’s efforts to change its TVET policy from a supply-driven to a demand-driven approach that more closely reflects the needs of the labour market. It does so by supporting reforms and regulatory improvements, and by involving the private sector in the design of curricula. The project also promotes training specially focused on people from disadvantaged groups.

In a dual cooperative training system, technical schools and private enterprises plan and deliver vocational training jointly. Students learn practical skills in a work environment, which prepares them more effectively to meet the demands of the labour market. To this end, the project supports up to 2,000 apprenticeships in companies. The project specifically accommodates disadvantaged groups to ensure a socially inclusive system. In particular, this means easier access to vocational training for all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, disabilities or financial status. To assist these groups, the project provides a large number of scholarships through its Inclusive Access Fund. The candidates benefit from short courses and the use of mobile training units, and can attain two levels of nationally recognised certification: C1 and C2. As well as learning specific trades, they acquire life skills and financial literacy.

The project works with government agencies, improving the quality of TVET by establishing sustainable in-service training mechanisms, and by training multipliers and teachers in vocational pedagogy. It has also advised the Department of Technical Vocational Education of the Ministry of Education and Sports on designing and implementing a coherent regulatory framework for a TVET system responsive to the labour market.

Results achieved so far

The project has developed a strategic model for a national qualification framework, and a plan for restructuring the National Training Council, which will perform many of the TVET supervisory functions. Alongside the national qualification framework, the project has also devised a Lao vocational qualification framework. It also provided substantial support for the design of the TVET Development Plan 2016–20, which has been officially endorsed by MoES.

In the 2014/15 academic year, the project built on the existing dual cooperative training structures at the Lao-German Technical College, supporting the enrolment of 46 students in automotive, electric/hydropower and agro-machinery courses. I has since expanded this to include similar pilot programmes in six other vocational training centres around the country. Preparing for this roll out, the project provided technical support for the development of standards, curricula, training calendars and lesson plans, and has built up staff capacities in all six institutions. At the same time, the project contributed to the creation of the Entrepreneurship Training Centre, whose role is to impart modern teaching skills to in-company trainers to prepare them for their role in dual cooperative training.

Technical vocational schools have introduced certified C1 courses and have significantly improved access to training for disadvantaged groups. Administrative and financial processes have also been drawn up for the Inclusive Access Fund, which finances C1 and C2 courses. The C1-level qualifications range from carpentry, tailoring and electric installation, to agriculture, small engine repair, animal husbandry, construction and catering. These courses are now available in 17 institutions throughout Laos. More than 2,000 students of diverse ethnicity have received training, with a graduation rate of 90 per cent. Of these graduates, 50 per cent are women. Meanwhile, C2-level curricula have been developed for tailoring, cookery and electrical installation, with around 1,500 students expected to enrol in the next two years.

A new in-service training programme in vocational teaching has been adapted to the current needs of TVET instructors, with nine multipliers (three of them women) already qualified to deliver it. In the pilot training programme, 19 TVET teachers, including eight women, have become ‘Level 1’ teachers, as defined in the Lao Vocational Teacher Education system.

Student practicing in the animal husbandry workshop. Photo credit © GIZ/ Phoonsab Thevongsa