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.
Project duration
2019 - 2027
Financed by
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC

The project

In phase 2 (December 2023 - November 2027), the project aims to achieve the main objective through the following outcomes and areas of work:

Outcome 1: Early school leavers from disadvantaged groups benefitting from market-relevant skills training are gainfully engaged in self- or wage-employment or re-enter the education system. 

  • Provision of Certificate 1 & 2 (C1 & C2) training courses, Equivalency Programme (EP, skills training back-to-back with general education), and Outreach Training (OT, skills training in more remote locations).
  • Provision of post-training support (PTS) for job-seeking skills.
  • Revision and development of training courses, including for 'green jobs’.
  • Development of the capacity of trainers and other key personnel from training schools.

Outcome 2: Early school leavers from disadvantaged groups that benefit from Employment Support Services (ESS) are actively engaged in self-employment or wage work.

  • Provision of 9-month coaching for employment.
  • Provision of enterprise- and/or institution-based skills training (part of the 9 months).
  • Identification and capacity development of ESS partners and their staff (Training of Coaches) to provide coaching.

Outcome 3: Graduates from the ESS coaching cycle benefitting from training on entrepreneurship, seed money, and enterprise coaching successfully establish a micro-enterprise.

  • Provision of basic entrepreneurial training (BET) for selected ESS participants who want to become micro entrepreneurs.
  • Provision of seed money (SM) to selected BET participants to start their business.
  • Provision of coaching to SM recipients during 6 months of their business start-up.
  • Identification and capacity development of BET partners and their trainers for BET delivery and business start-up coaching.

Outcome 4: A sustainable financing model for skills training and ESS has been endorsed by key stakeholders.

  • Development of a guideline under the newly approved Training Development Fund (TDF) for a funding window of skills training, ESS, BET and SM.
  • Piloting the guideline on practical cases for funding.

Target areas: The project works in the 5 provinces of Oudomxay, Xiengkhuang, Xayaboury, Khammuane, and Saravan plus the capital of Vientiane (start in Phase 2). 

Key implementing governmental partners: Ministry of Education and Sports – MoES, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare – MoLSW.

Target groups:

  • Primary: People 15 to 35 years of age, who have completed lower secondary school only (early school leavers) and are deprived socially and economically.
  • Wider: Teachers and other core staff from IVET schools, staff from other government-related agencies such as job centres, youth and women unions, local NGOs and other private organisations and enterprises.

Project partner

Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU)

Project Goals

Selected expected results for phase 2 (December 2023 - November 2027):

  • 60% of self-employed or wage-employed graduates with an income above the national poverty line.
  • 2’015 graduates from short courses (C1 & C2: 1’460; OT: 460; EP: 75) of which 50% are employed.
  • 750 C1 & C2 and EP graduates receive PTS.
  • Successful implementation of six training courses developed in phase 1, including electric motorbike repair, plus two additional courses developed.
  • 1’500 beneficiaries join the full coaching cycle, of which 1'250 graduate, and of which 80% are employed.
  • 30 new ESS coaches trained.
  • 7 local ESS trainers trained.
  • 750 BET graduates, of which 40% qualify for SM and of which 90% are still in business after 6 months.
  • 30 new BET trainers trained.
  • A funding window for skills training, ESS, BET and SM has been approved by key stakeholders and tested.
  • Beneficiaries of the main target group: A minimum of 50% should be female and at least 50% should come from other than the main ethnic group.

Outcomes Phase 1 (2019 - 2023)

Outcome 1: Underprivileged youth benefit from IVET courses to enhance their employability or to re-enter the education system. 

  • Development of the legal basis for the Equivalency Programmes (EP) which allows achieving the Lower Secondary School Certificate back-to-back with vocational training.
  • Definition of the financing modality for Certificate 1/ 2/ 3 courses at IVET schools.
  • Revision and development of relevant courses, curricula and learning materials.
  • Capacity development of IVET teachers and other core staff.
  • Provision of C1/ 2/ 3/, EP and mobile training courses to the underprivileged youth.

Outcome 2: Underprivileged youth benefit from Coaching for Employment and Entrepreneurship (C4EE) to enhance their chances for wage or self-employment.

  • Adaptation of the C4EE concept, successfully introduced by Swisscontact in other countries, to the Lao PDR context.
  • Identification and capacity development of C4EE partners and their staff (coaches) to deliver C4EE.
  • Provision of C4EE to underprivileged youth.
  • Development of the concept and modality for seed money (start-up capital) to be awarded for good self-employment ideas (business plans) developed by underprivileged youth.
  • Provision of seed money for selected self-employment ideas.

Outcome 3: Stakeholders in the TVET system contribute to improved performance regarding access, delivery and quality of IVET training and Employment Support Services (ESS) through innovations on organisational, institutional and systems level.

  • Development of the concept and modality for the challenge Fund (CF) to finance  innovative projects that lead to improved access, delivery and quality of IVET training and ESS.
  • Dissemination of information about the CF, and orientation and capacity building of interested CF applicants to support the development of their project concepts and proposals.
  • Selection and financing of the projects qualifying for CF support.

Impact Stories

Component 1: Integrated Vocational Training and Education Pathway and C1 Graduates
Component 2: Employment Support Services (ESS) trainees and coaching cycle
Component 3: Entrepreneurship Training and Seed Money Beneficiaries 


Initial vocational education and training
SDC extends support for vocational training project
Some 3,548 young Lao people have benefited from Phase 1 of the Vocational Training and Employment Support Services project supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This has involved four years of vocational training and employment support, short course training, employment support for 1,263 people, and basic business training for 311 people, of whom 210 also received seed money for business start-up and coaching.
In addition, the project supported the development of new curricula and training materials for four new certificate level courses, including for the repair and maintenance of e-bikes.
Initial vocational education and training
The delegation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) visits the Vocational Training and Employment Support Services (VTESS) project in Oudomxay province to monitor implementation, results, and impact. 
On 6 December 2023, Mr. Jean Gabriel, the Director of the Mekong Region from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), along with his delegation, paid an official visit to the Integrated Vocational Education College (IVETC) in Oudomxay province. Mr. Gabriel was greeted by Mr. Kayamphanh Phommaly, the Deputy Director of the IVETC. During the meeting, Phommaly outlined the various activities in the first phase of the project that spanned four years. He also shed light on the institution's vision and mission while discussing the pertinent issues and potential solutions for its future course of action.
Initial vocational education and training
VTESS Project Phase 2 and MoU Consultation Meeting
Vientiane, August 17th, 2023 - The progress and collaboration inherent in the Vocational Training and Employment Support Services (VTESS) Project Phase 2 and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Consultation Meeting were evident on Thursday, August 17th, 2023, held at the Crowne Plaza in Vientiane capital.