I learned a lot about how the labour market works.

Initial vocational education and training
Mrs. Saykham Phetpanya and her family have often helped children and the poor. And in the past, she has also organised activities to support disadvantaged children and women. So, when she learned that the VTESS project provides disadvantaged people with employment opportunities she was excited to become involved and applied to become an Employment Support Services (ESS) coach in late 2020.  

Mrs. Saykham works at the Provincial Lao Women's Union of Xayaboury Province. Although she graduated from the Luangprabang Teachers' College and is a skilled teacher, she believes that with progressing training as an ESS coach that her skills of speaking and communicating have improved. “I also learned a lot about how the labour market works,” she added.  

She explained the steps to select the target beneficiaries require interested applicants to first complete the application form and submit it to the coach. Then the coach will select eligible applicants based on initial information and make an appointment for an interview. Some of the interviews happen on the phone and others are face-to-face. 

Image: Saykham is presenting during the workshop 

“Being a coach is mostly listening to the person,” Mrs. Saykham said. “As coaches, we are not the ones that fix all the problems, but we are there to help a person to learn possible ways to solve their problems and to encourage them to make decisions.” She explained that coaches also need to be respectful. “Because as a good mentor, we must gain the confidence of the person we want to support,” she emphasized.

The project’s planned approach for the implementation has faced many obstacles. For example, the agenda not being followed correctly, participants changing their short-term internship placements, and a bulk of the challenges are because of the current pandemic; COVID-19 has impacted every activity we planned so far.

Mrs. Saykham said she adapted her approach based on discussions with other coaches and she also managed to apply her new skills to her duties at the Lao Women’s Union Office. After that, Mrs. Saykham observed that a lot of participants changed their perspective in a positive way; especially, when they are given the chance to voice their opinion. 

ESS Coaches - Mrs. Saykham Phetpanya

Initial vocational education and training
Vocational Training and Employment Support Services in Laos
VTESS will be an important vehicle to support the build-up and strengthening of an inclusive vocational education and training system in Laos. The focus will be on the strengthening of the Integrated Vocational and Education Training (IVET) pathway in order to facilitate the school to work transition of early school leavers, to provide them with...