“An ESS coach is like a teacher, we do not judge students, we can only guide them, help them, and inspire them in many different fields.

Initial vocational education and training
Mrs. Manikeo Vorakoun wanted to be an Employment Support Services (ESS) coach because as a teacher, she realized the problems for graduates to get jobs.  She works as a teacher at Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College of Khammuane province and she saw the VTESS project as a great opportunity for beneficiaries to get training for future jobs and to get employment support, which will help them find jobs and earn income for their families. 

Mrs. Manikeo’s main task as an ESS coach is to go to villages to find targeted young people, between the ages of 15-35 who have only completed primary school, and to support them to enroll in the project. “When we advertise to reach our target applicants, some pay attention, and some do not. My challenge is to help young people understand the project’s benefits and inspire them to join.”

Unfortunately, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, some training activities were postponed, and some students who will graduate in this year will face less employment opportunities due to the high number of businesses closing.

Image: Manikeo with the ESS participants 

However, Mrs. Manikeo said she knows students gained major skills that will help them in their future endeavors, such as: teamwork and team building, time management, and communication.

Mrs. Manikeo also sees that becoming an ESS coach is a good chance for her to enhance her skills and abilities. “Before being trained as an ESS coach, I was a shy person, and when I was on stage, I felt nervous and unconfident. Now I feel that I gained courage to speak more,” she said. 

“Through the ESS coaches’ training, we also learn many new and interesting things such as labour market surveying skills, and how to conduct surveys. Through this work, we improve our coaching skills.”

The pandemic derailed the professional relationships built by the coaches and the businesses. With many project activities being postponed it was a lot harder to achieve our targets. Mrs. Manikeo said she relied on her network of coaches and participants to look for alternative approaches to the postponed activities. Mrs. Manikeo’s support system also encouraged her to focus on preparing her students for employment and to help create a career path for graduating participants. 

Initial vocational education and training
Vocational Training and Employment Support Services in Laos
The VTESS project aims at vocational training and labour market insertion or re-entering of schooling of the main project beneficiaries, who are people between 15 and 35 years of age, have completed primary and/ or lower secondary education only (early school leavers), and are subjected to income poverty. The main objective of the project is to improve the income and, ultimately, the livelihood of its beneficiaries.