19-25 May 2017 #859

Helping migrants make the grade

A country that sends half a million workers abroad yearly prepares to certify vocational education
Shreejana Shrestha

Gopen Rai

Sumita Aryal has 10 years of expertise in cosmetology, but it is not recognised by Nepal’s education and training authority. The Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) has graded her decade-long experience as Level 2, equivalent to higher secondary school by international standards.

“I have enough experience to get certified as Level 4 in technical education if we are to follow international standards. But we don’t have a proper grading system that recognises my vocational education,” says Aryal.

Another problem facing the 33-year-old beautician is lack of recognition for her Bachelor’s level studies in management, after which she switched to the vocational sector. She was not allowed to transfer those credits to technical education.

With more than 500,000 young men and women leaving for work abroad every year, Nepal is one of the major source countries in the international labour market. Through the proposed National Vocational Qualification Framework Authority (NVQFA), the government is working on a vocational qualification certification system to provide international recognition to technical and vocational education.

“If I decide to go for jobs abroad again, I will be paid less as I don’t have proper recognition of my work. Sometimes I feel my efforts are being undervalued,” said Aryal, who runs Serenity Parlour in Kathmandu and has already worked as a cosmetologist in the UK for two years.

Plumber and trainer Dambar Bahadur Thapa is an aspiring migrant worker who wants to gain international experience. His CV to date is sufficient to qualify him for a skilled job in the destination country, but he won’t get it because he lacks certification.

“Most Nepali migrant workers I have trained have ended up as labourers abroad even though they went with skill and experience. I will have to do the same if I opt for foreign employment because my skills cannot be certified to match international criteria,” says Thapa.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) and CTEVT have collaborated with SwissContact to design the NVQF certification system, a 10-year project focussing on the construction and hospitality sectors.

"Nepal’s technical education is in dire need of regulation and international recognition,” says the NVQF’s Devi Prasad Dahal. “The new system will help people document their vocational skills and develop profiles.”

The proposed NVQF goes up to Level 8, equivalent to a PhD in formal education. The current system goes only to Level 4. To date it has certified the skills of 350,000 people.

Prof Pramod Bahadur Shrestha agrees that the new framework would benefit people with technical skills looking to work abroad. But he sees big challenges to implementing the NVQF: “This is an extremely ambitious goal for a developing country like Nepal as private and public employers, being the key players, need to participate in the entire process.”

Adopting the international system would require revamping the existing system entirely and establishing numerous training institutions, including with modern equipment.

In order to provide vocational education equivalence to studies in general education like Sumita Aryal’s Bachelor’s degree, Nepal’s Ministry of Education needs a fair and effective qualification framework that allows credit transfers between general and vocational education.

Shreejana Shrestha

Read also:

Educated but unskilled, Ashutosh Tiwari

Learn to earn, Om Astha Rai

They don’t count, and are uncounted, Anurag Acharya

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