- By Lokethar
In Myanmar culture, one of the five primary “duties” of parents towards their children is “twwfoifap” which can be translated in the modern context as meaning “enable them to learn vocational knowledge and skills”. Nowadays, however, most parents seem to interpret “twwfoifap” as “getting a degree”. Perhaps they consider that their “duty” is fulfilled if their children acquire University/College degrees.
The area of Formal Education is generally categorized into Basic Education (which includes Primary and Secondary Education), Vocational and Technical Education and Higher (Tertiary) Education. Students, who after passing the Secondary Education Matriculation Examinations, if their marks are up to the required levels, seek to attend the “Public” Higher Education Universities /Institutes offering professional degree courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Nursery, Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Engineering, Information and Communications Technology, Earth Sciences, Economics, Education, Law, Languages, etc. if their parents can afford such an education. Many of the rest usually opt to attend the “Public” Arts and Science Universities/Colleges to get “degrees” as their parents would like them to do, instead of attending the “Public” Technical and Vocational Institutions which can actually prepare them better to be employed in a specific “Occupation Group”. This is probably why, according to the statistics, degree holders (Graduates) make up 4% of the workforce while Vocational Diploma/Certificate holders make up less than 1%.
In Myanmar, most of the “general” Arts and Science courses are largely “academic” (as being different from professional and vocational courses) leading to Bachelor Degree in Arts or Science. Many of those who get their Bachelor degree but are not qualified to pursue Masters and Ph.D./Doctors Degrees in their specialized subjects are usually not interested in further pursuing “Formal Higher Education”. Many of them, after getting their Bachelor degree also do not seek a salary/wage earning job, but take up their parent’s businesses or go into “self employment” if they can.
Bachelor Degree in Arts or Science, although “academic”, does enable the motivated student to acquire “learning” in their subjects which are imparted by qualified “Teachers” and which he/she can find useful in a job he/she chooses to enter. For example, a B.Sc. graduate, if he/she chooses to work in a business or industry where knowledge of his/her degree subject is needed, he/she will be able to learn the “works” in a shorter time than others with an “Arts” degree. Similarly an “Arts” graduate may find his/her knowledge base useful if he/she is in a trading or service enterprise. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Hence the “Arts”/ “Science” graduate who, is seeking a job, has to prepare himself/herself to get into any job for which he/she applies and for which the employer/HR interviews him/her.
The Arts / Science Bachelor degree holder, who is seeking a job, should have certain “Common Skills” including the “Soft Skills” that are nowadays sought after by many employers. Such skills will give an edge to the prospective job seeker to land the job.
The most basic requirement for getting a job is how to apply for it, how to write one’s own CV. A well-written CV should bring out the “best” in terms of qualification/s acquired, experience if any (either as “interns” or in previous regular employment), participation in social and community activities and so on.
The next requirement for enhancing employability nowadays is basic computer skills. This includes the use of the related applications for basic matters such as “typing letters” “generating charts and tables” “making spreadsheets”, “making video presentations” “sending and receiving e-mails” etc.
Besides these, it would be useful to learn the social skills of behaviour and working in teams. These are important, particularly for occupations where one has to meet people, like in hotel and tourism industry, retailing industry, health service industry, transportation services industries and so on. For those seeking Jobs in the manufacturing industry, subjects such as basic Occupational Safety and Health and Industrial Relations would be of help.
Employability Enhancing Courses of adequate duration to fill in the “employability requirements” mentioned above could perhaps be conducted by private and public TVET centres/schools in the Regions and States where they are located (that is if they are not already conducting such courses) so as to be accessible by a larger target group. It should be affordable by most including young graduates from the rural areas of the States and Regions.
Conducting Employability Enhancing Courses would require additional resources such as Computers and Training Aids as well as Instructors. Thus the courses could be conducted, where feasible, through formal Public-Private-Partnership arrangements by already established public and private training institutions/centres.