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Rebuilding trust between communities by boosting skills

In Myanmar’s Rakhine State, the ILO is supporting the local government and the Department of technical vocational training (TVET) to put in place inclusive skills development programmes not only to help local job seekers boosting their skills and finding employment, but also to rebuild trust among communities segregated by discrimination and violence.

Article | 13 December 2018
Sittwe (ILO News) - “I enjoyed so much to learn and work in such a diverse group. It’s much more fun to be all together”. 39 year-old Mohamed Zawmil has just completed a welding skills development training which brought together 58 women and men from Hindu, Muslim and ethnic Rakhine communities in Buthidaung township in Northern Rakhine State, one of Myanmar’s most complex regions.

First on the right, Mohammed Zawmil and his fellow trainers / © ILO
Upon completion of the 10-day Competency-Based Modular Short-Term Training Course (CBMSC) on Welding, Masonry and House Wiring at the end of November 2018, trainees like Mohamed were assigned to different shops for their on-the-job training. The CBMSC was initiated by the Myanmar’s Department of Technical Vocational Training (DTVET) through the Sittwe Government Technical High School, with the support of the ILO.

Organized as a community based training in Northern Rakhine’s township of Maungdaw, the classes or training groups were attended by women and men from the major ethnic groups of Rakhine State – Muslims, Hindus and Rakhine – in an attempt to rebuild trust among different communities.

These trainings are bringing fresh hope to the communities, especially to young members of those ethnic groups whose access to education and jobs has been considerably restricted. Ending discrimination and increasing freedom of movement for all communities would greatly enhance their opportunities for training and employment and help to re-start the local economy.

Mohamed Solim attending the motorcycle servicing training / © ILO
“Now, I can see my dream of earning a stable income no longer impossible; and I am proud to be of service to my community through my repairing skills”. This is what 18 year-old Mohamed Solim proudly stated, after having completed the government-led skills training on Motorcycle Servicing, Masonry and Welding, supported by the ILO in Maungdaw. Mohamed comes from a Muslim community in Ngan Chaung village, not far from Maungdaw, and he is currently working together with other motorcycle servicing graduates in the Inter-Communal Shared Service Facility and Tool Bank which the ILO has set up as part of the after-training support.

Apart from tool banks and Inter-Communal Shared Service Facilities where the newly trained can work and borrow tools, the ILO also provides support to those who have completed the trainings to acquire additional practical skills and working experience by linking them with local construction companies. Mentoring and coaching service are also made available to support the training graduates with technical guidance and support – particularly those setting up their own small servicing business.

Maungdaw and Buthidaung are the two townships of Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State which have been hit the hardest by the violence, human rights violations and displacement since September 2016, which has seen the exodus of over 700,000 Muslim Rohingyas seeking refuge in neighboring Bangladesh.

With the support of the LIFT Fund, the ILO is implementing the Skills Development Project - Rakhine State (SDPRS), designed to assist the government devise inclusive policies on TVET, aimed at promoting social cohesion, productive employment and poverty reduction.

The Young Chay Thit motorbike service shop in Maungdaw, Rakhine State / © ILO
The project is in line with the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations to support inclusive TVET programs especially for women, and supports the government’s priorities under its National Education Strategy Plan.

Following a Labour Market Study coordinated by the ILO, the project is supporting the government to set up new training centers and improve the existing ones. These centers will offer short-term courses based on the results of the study in an effort to meet the local labour demand.

The ILO is also working with local enterprises and local shops to increase their productivity and efficiency, and is providing incentives – such as small cash benefits and new tools – to those businesses which employ women and community members from disadvantaged ethnic groups.

For further information, please contact:

Peter Bellen, Chief Technical Adviser of the ILO Skills Development Project in Rakhine State – bellen@ilo.org