March 3-9, 2008 Myanmar's first international weekly © Volume 21, No. 408

Vocational education leads to employment

By Than Htike Oo
Students learn to repair air conditioners and refrigerators at Elite Engineering Training Centre in Yangon last month.

VOCATIONAL training schools have become popular with young people in Myanmar as they attempt to increase their chances of getting a good job in the challenging job market.

If a person does not have work experience, this task is that much harder; many employers want to hire skilled employees rather than train inexperienced ones.

In Myanmar, hospitality, tourism, beauty and fashion, nursing and engineering are major career paths for vocational training graduates.

In the new millennium, the number of vocational training schools in these study areas has increased in Yangon, the business centre of Myanmar.

U Aung Naing Tun, principal of Tech Training Centre inYangon, said attending vocational training schools can benefit people in four ways.

He said someone who has completed vocational training and is already working becomes more efficient in their job. Those without employment have more potential to get a better job in the local market, can work abroad as a technician or semi-skilled worker or can set up their own business.

Daw Nay Yi Aung, managing director of Staresources Hospitality and Career Consultancy in Yangon, said there are many opportunities in the local and foreign hospitality and tourism industry.

“Last year, Dubai wanted to hire 6500 people from Myanmar for the hotel and tourism industry. My school could only supply about 900 people,” she said. “We cannot supply enough to meet demand.”

Vocational education is a mixture of practical and theoretical classes.

She said about 400 students from her school went to Singapore in 2007. Staresources has six courses on hotel life that run for between two and three months.

“We accept about 15 to 30 students for each class and during the course send them to local hotels for on-the-job training,” Daw Nay Yi Aung said.

Vocational training schools give on-the-job training so students get more experience and confidence in their chosen industry.

U Win Kyi, the principal of Hotel and Tourism Training Centre, which is run by Kandawgyi Palace Hotel in Yangon, said: “Our school has eight courses and courses last about 8 weeks. Somewhere between 20 and 50 students are accepted for each class.”

He said that the courses are designed to be about 50 percent theory and 50pc practical work.

“We send the top 10pc of students to Kandawgyi Palace Hotel for industry experience. If other hotels requests, we send other outstanding students to them as well,” he said.

Hotel and Tourism Training Centre awards its certificates through the directorate of hotels and tourism, under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Another popular type of vocational training course in Yangon is nurse aid, particularly for those who want to work abroad.

Daw Ei Ei Nyein, assistant receptionist supervisor at Maha Mya Kyun Thar Nurse Aid Training Centre (MMAC) in Yangon, said nurse aid schools had become much more popular in the past year or two.

“I think more people want to earn their living in the nursing industry these days. Going abroad with a nurse aid certificate is also convenient,” she said.

Many hospitals in Southeast Asia, especially in Singapore and Thailand, hire Myanmar nurses to work in their wards.

Daw Ei Ei Nyein said: “MMAC has basic and special courses. The basic course runs for four months and special course is for three months.”

“We accept between 20 and 50 students for a class. During the course, we send students to local clinics in Yangon, Hninsigone home for the aged and Eden Centre for Disabled Children to do practical work,” she said.

“After they complete the course we give the trainees certificates, which allows them to get jobs locally and abroad,” she said.

Engineering courses are also popular, especially among younger people, and also provide local and foreign job opportunities.

“Our aim is to give everyone who wants to make a living in engineering the chance to do so,” said Daw Shwe War Hlaing, director of Elite Engineering Training Centre in Yangon.

To attend engineering courses at government technical schools in Myanmar, applicants need to pass matriculation examinations with high marks.

“We accept students who pass 8th standard. We also have government technological university graduates,” she said.

Elite conducts four engineering courses; air conditioner and refrigerator repairing, applied electrical power, electronics and programmable logic control.

“One course lasts about two to three months and we accept only 10 people for a class,” she said.

“As we have an air conditioner and electrical service centre, our students can get on-the-job training with us after finishing the course,” she said.

Tech Training Centre gives two types of training courses in Engineering – certificate courses and diploma courses.

“We have 11 certificate level courses. The courses last from one to four months and we give our own certificates for completing these courses,” U Aung Naing Tun said.

“We also give London-based City and Guilds’ diploma-level engineering courses. They are six month and one year courses. People can find jobs easily locally and abroad if they hold a City and Guild diploma,” he said.

“So far, four students from our training centre have won a City and Guilds gold medal award at diploma level,” he said.

The latest trend in vocational education schools in Myanmar is in beautification courses and fashion design courses.

U Tun Tun Zaw, principal of Tatee Fashion Design School in Yangon, said: “I think that people became more interested in fashion design in about 2005.”

“I opened my fashion design school in April 2004 and now run three, one-month courses – in skirt and blouse, shirt and trousers, and western dress,” he said.

Tatee Design school awards separate certificates for each course, he said.

“I put great emphasis on creativity and service. Creation is the essence of design and service is essential for every business,” he said.

Tatee design school also operates distance learning courses.

“I started distance learning in 2005 and teach people from outside Yangon through mail,” he said.

“Every year we run a Design Day fashion show where I let my students show off their creations so they become confident in their ability and can introduce themselves to the fashion design market,” he said.

Daw Thida Win, the principal of DoZo Fashion Design and Technical School, said she teaches her students to be able to make dresses systematically.

“A designer must be able to come up with a new idea and develop that idea systematically,” she said.

DoZo has five courses – basic (skirt and blouse), advanced (coat, trousers and dress), wedding dress (Myanmar traditional costume and western costume), fashion illustration and childrenswear.

“Anyone who wants to become a fashion designer must attend the fashion illustration course, which runs for three months,” she said.

“I accept only 15 people for a class. The basic course is four months, advanced course is five, wedding dress course is five months and childrenswear takes four months,” she said.

She said that most of her graduates are successful when they enter the industry.

“Ninety percent of my students set up their own business. The other 10pc, it’s not that they aren’t qualified or capable but I think they lack the confidence to run a business.”

In Yangon, no one can avoid beauty salons. Consequently, a lot of people are enrolling in beautification schools.

Ko Tony Tun Tun, a beauty artist in Yangon who teaches skin care and hair design, said that he accepts 20 people for each class, which last about two months.

“I teach them to be able to set up a beauty saloon and give all the assistance I can to help them start a business after finishing the course,” he said.

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