Enterprise development and skills

Women in STEM Workforce Readiness and Development Programme

The programme seeks to provide women with critical soft and technical STEM-related skills, employability and leadership training coupled with targeted mentorship to help women gain quality employment and advancement opportunities in STEM-related jobs.

Countries and industry focus

Programme background

Working in three industries in three countries –the Electrical and Electronics industry in Thailand, automotive and ICT industry in Indonesia and IT-BPO industry in Philippines–, the ILO programme seeks to strengthen linkages between private sector firms, social partner institutions and vocational training centres to ensure greater opportunity through higher entry, retention and advancement of women workers in STEM-related positions.

Women in STEM-related industries across Southeast Asia face a variety of challenges that reduce entry, retention and advancement in these industries. First, for a variety of reasons fewer women tend to enter the vocational training programmes related to these sectors. Second, those that do often face challenges of placement vis a vis their male counterparts, due to gender bias in the hiring processes of firms. Once within firms, women employees in these industries are typically faced with challenges both within their firms and from societal expectations, resulting in a higher tendency to drop out higher rates than males. And finally, they often are overlooked in terms of career advancement, at both the lower levels and with regard to their moving into senior managerial roles.

To address these issues, the automotive, ICT, IT-BPO, and electrical and electronics industries are identified as high-growth in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, respectively, presenting significant projected skills gaps and opportunities for growth for women over the next decade. These industries are rapidly evolving and becoming more innovative, requiring critical soft and technical STEM-related skills. As a result, low skilled-jobs are clearly declining and traditional blue-collar jobs are shifting to more skilled occupations. Therefore, the programme aims to improve enterprises’ productivity along with working conditions. In turn, productivity is a key source of improved living standards for women and also a major contributor to economic growth.


  • Successfully transition underprivileged female vocational school graduates into STEM-related employment with sustainable career and livelihood prospects;
  • Successfully transition women in low-skilled jobs to quality STEM-related employment with sustainable career and livelihood prospects; and
  • Successfully transition mid-skilled women in STEM fields into leadership and management positions to ensure women not only enter, but also stay and get promoted in STEM fields.

Target beneficiaries

The Women in STEM Programme aims to empower, connect and support career development of three groups of women:
  • Underprivileged female secondary or post-secondary TVET graduates;
  • Under-employed women working in entry level STEM-related jobs; and
  • Mid-level skilled women working in STEM fields.

Main activities

Skills gap identification

Consultation with sectoral business associations and key private sector firms to identify and prioritize industry specific skills and occupational needs and develop country and sector specific action plans for skills development. The design of a training plan and subsequent curricula seeks to be demand-oriented and include industry-specific STEM-related skills development and employability plans for women.

Skills upgrading

Upskilling and broadening critical soft and technical STEM-related skills, targeting three categories of women, which each category being offered a different type of training:
  • Pre-employment technical and employability skills for TVET graduates to facilitate their entry into full-time jobs;
  • Skills upgrading for those who are already in employment but in low-skilled jobs with limited mobility to expand their career prospects; and
  • High-end technical skills, or leadership and managerial training for those who are already in supervisory or mid-skilled positions.

Job placement

Maximize job placement through continuous collaboration with private sector firms throughout programme implementation.

In-company developing and mentoring

A programme of company-level peer support and mentorship organized by and within participating firms. The in-company development and mentoring seeks to strengthen retention and advancement of women workers through a comprehensive workplace-based learning programme to boost critical soft skills. Participating firms will benefit from an innovative learning approach designed by the ILO to deliver soft skills training, leveraging peer learning networks to support development, growth, and enhancement of enterprises.

The ILO In Business training methodology offers private sector firms a suite of training modules that apply activity-based and peer learning designed to empower female employees and connect them with role models and mentors. Topics for soft skills modules include:
  • Vision setting and professional development;
  • Creative thinking;
  • Problem solving;
  • Teamwork;
  • Reaching consensus;
  • Interpersonal communication;
  • Public speaking;
  • Critical thinking and reasoning;
  • Time management and self-organization;
  • Starting to manage;
  • Leadership;
  • Personal awareness; and
  • Working across cultures and Managing upwards.

For further information please contact:

Mr Jordi Prat Tuca
Technical Officer, Enterprise Development and Skills
International Labour Organization
Decent Work Technical Support Team for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific
United Nations Building, 10th Floor
Rajdamnern Nok Avenue
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Tel.: +66 2288 2304
Email: prattuca@ilo.org