YANGON: Authorities in Myanmar are looking to the Singapore model as the country ramps up efforts to develop a skilled workforce.
They are working with educational institution Singapore Polytechnic to set standards for skills training.
At a training centre in Yangon, young men are learning the basics of welding and electrical work.
But when they complete the course, their training certificate won’t exactly meet national standards.
Not because they’re not qualified — but because national standards are still in the making for Myanmar.
Yin Yin Aye, who heads the Swiss training centre, said a multitude of organisations offer vocational training in the country, and all offer different qualifications.
"Sometimes there’s good in diversity, but if we have nationalised certification, and we all know the same standards, the (training) quality and their (workers’) skill level will be more... enhanced."
Deputy Labour Minister U Myint Thein said the country is gearing up for an influx of foreign investment, and also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ target of having a free flow of skilled labour by 2015.
"Myanmar workers will go overseas, and many workers will also come to Myanmar. For this free flow of labour, it is important to have a set of national skills standards, which is a form of quality assurance for employers," he said.
Setting national standards is part of the government’s extensive reform of its dated labour laws from the 1950s.
It is an effort to increase the mobility of skilled workers, and in turn, raise the wages of the Myanmar workforce.
With a grant from Temasek Foundation, Singapore Polytechnic is lending its technical expertise to this process.
Polytechnic principal Tan Hang Cheong said: "SP has been helping many countries in the region to upgrade their technical and vocational training. I think we should have the experience now."
Temasek Foundation CEO Benedict Cheong said: "All across Asia, there’s this group of middle and technical managers that you need to build up within your communities. You can’t just have leaders from universities and higher education institutions, you need a group of equally trained, equally skilled people at different levels."
A skilled workforce won’t just benefit the country. The Deputy Labour Minister said Myanmar’s neighbours also stand to gain from the golden land’s skilled manpower exports.
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