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Despite impressive economic growth and reductions in poverty over the past two decades, countries in the Southeast Asian region continue to struggle with inequality, since increased wealth in the region has not been fairly distributed across all segments of society.

Women and Youth is the Most Disadvantaged

(Is Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Men?) While trends in inequality vary across countries in the region, women and young people tend to be the most disadvantaged, with higher unemployment and informal employment rates than other groups, resulting in higher levels of economic disengagement and social marginalisation. Inequality matters, not only in its own right but also because it can hamper growth and decrease the poverty reduction impact of growth. Conversely, the foundations for future growth and poverty reduction can be strengthened if the benefits of development are shared broadly and equitably across populations.

A powerful tool for developmental challenges and growth

An analysis (1) suggests that Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) could be a powerful tool for addressing multiple developmental challenges and fostering inclusive growth at the local level in the region (Read about the Myanmar TVET). The paper concludes:

  • that well-designed formal TVET programmes may be more effective than general (or academic) education for integrating marginalised groups (such as women and youth) into the labour market and improving their earnings; and
  • that informal and non-formal TVET initiatives can play a role in reducing poverty, inequality and social exclusion by offering disadvantaged and marginalised groups the opportunity to acquire work-relevant skills.

However, TVET has not had a significant positive impact on the economic outcomes and social well-being of disadvantaged and marginalised groups in the region for several reasons. These include

  • low TVET participation rates, primarily due to low public spending on TVET
  • poor TVET quality, especially in countries with low national income;
  • weak TVET relevance, owing to lack of engagement of key stakeholders, especially the private sector, in local TVET planning, design and implementation.

Yet, despite these issues, recent evidence suggests that TVET is valued and well-regarded by employers in the region and that many of the countries have harnessed TVET’s potential to promote economic and social inclusion.

Poor people working in a rubbish dump
by KaYann

Impact on Poverty, Inequality and Social Exclusion for Second-chance Initiatives in TVET

Many studies (1) shows that we can find TVET’s impact on poverty, inequality and social exclusion. Second-chance initiatives have the greatest positive economic and social impacts.

  • First, comprehensive interventions that combine in-class learning with on-the-job training and labour intermediation services have more positive impacts on employability, earnings and especially job quality than programmes offering in-class training only.

  • Second, in terms of course content, programmes that include training in entrepreneurship and emphasise soft skills, as well as technical skills, have a more positive impact on employability. Holistic programmes combining TVET, literacy and life skills training have the greatest positive impacts on participants’ economic and social wellbeing.
  • Third, entrepreneurship initiatives that offer start-up grants to mitigate the capital constraints faced by disadvantaged youth have a more positive impact on employability and business performance (profits and sales) than programmes without this feature.
  • Fourth, initial TVET programmes with a duration of four months or more, regardless of the number of training components that they include, have been found to have better labour market effects than shorter programmes.
  • Fifth, programmes that target specific groups and provide training stipends have been found to be more cost-effective than programmes with looser targeting and no participation incentives.
  • Sixth, programmes that engage the private sector in their design and implementation have more positive impacts on employability, earnings and job quality than programmes with no private sector involvement.
  • Finally, improving the articulation of second-chance initiatives with the formal education system by developing uniform standards and related testing and certification processes increase and extend programmes’ positive impacts.

You can also read the article about how to develop the Core Skills in TVET to Enhance the Employability of Learners and Jobseekers.


  1. The role of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in fostering inclusive growth at the local level in Southeast Asia, OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Papers 2018/01

Lucubrate Magazine November 2019

The Photo on the top of the article by May Chanikran (Adobe Stock)

Seamstress in textile factory

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Lucubrate Magazine
Lucubrate Magazine

Lucubrate Magazine highlights trends in education and development. Development in this context can be technological, educational, individual, social or global, and everything related to education.
Lucubrate Magazine is a global based on the web magazine with the main office in Norway.

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