The other day a news item on MRTV covered well the event regarding Research Conference of the Myanmar Universities under the various Ministries. The number of papers and the fields they covered were impressive.
Generally speaking, excellence in academic research determines the reputation of the universities. The world class universities which produce highly qualified professionals and intellectuals are noted for their research programmes. Research contributes to advancing the frontiers of knowledge and technology. This is of much benefit for progress and development of society. As was observed by the Union Minister of Education at the closing ceremony, the research programmes of our universities is expected benefit much our country.
Persons of high academic qualifications, especially the professionals are needed in all sectors of the economy at the middle and top levels of the organization pyramid. But the lower levels of the pyramid requires the employment of various “levels” of skilled workers. The proportion of skilled workers required is much higher than the mid-level and higher level personnel. Hence with increased investment, the demand for skilled workers will increase at a much higher rate compared to the management and professional level personnel.
With the future increases expected in high value added labour intensive industries like furniture manufacturing, (wood and steel), electrical and mechanical parts and components manufacturing, vehicle assembly etc. in the manufacturing sector, construction workers of various types in the building construction and infrastructure sector, skilled operators and machinery maintenance workers in the agricultural, livestock and fisheries sectors are needed. Various levels of skilled workers in the service sectors, including health, social welfare, travel and transport, hotel and tourism and so on are being increasingly needed as well.
Training of skilled workers is a high priority to meet the immediate and emerging needs of our economy and to gradually replace the skilled workers from other countries. In this regard we probably need a “Foreign Worker Hiring Law” to regulate hiring of such workers.
The National Education Law of 2015 and it’s amendments encompass education and training by the State sector as well as by the private sector. It also advocates Public Private Partnerships in all areas of education and training. Regarding technical and vocational Training, while the entry requirement of the “trade” based skilled worker training which can enable the trainee to further seek technician level training remains the same as before, the entry level requirement to other appropriate vocational courses has been lowered to primary level educational attainment. This provides opportunity to the school drop outs to acquire occupation based training. Occupation based “short courses” are now being offered at State expense in the public vocational schools. Many young drop outs are only now becoming aware of such courses. It maybe sooner rather than later, for more and more young school dropouts to avail themselves of such opportunities.
The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, under the 2013 Employment and Skills Development Law has formed the National Skills Standards Authority (NSSA) to help Employers train /up-skill their workers in specific occupations in line with Occupational Competency Standards of the NSSA. The OCSs have been developed at four levels in accordance with the modality shared by the CLMVT Countries of ASEAN, following the ASEAN/Aus-Dev Project: “Enhancing Skills Recognition Arrangements within ASEAN (2002 -2006)”.
Regarding budget allocations in the field of public education, it is of utmost importance that priority should be given to technical and vocational education and training. The cost of training skilled workers to occupational competency standards can be high. Hence adequate allocation of budget/funds is a dire necessity.
It is hoped that the public and private vocational training centres will conduct short courses for training skilled workers in specific occupations in line with the occupational skills standards at four levels of competency which the NSSA has developed for skills training and certification of skilled workers in Myanmar.