It is a fact not only for the Asian region, that there is a vast majority of youth who do not have the opportunity or means to pursue higher or theorethical education. A key strategy for poverty alleviation is to address the needs of these youths in pursuit of a decent livelihood. Vocational training schools and facilities play a key role in equipping them with the necessary skills and certification to become competitive in the market for skilled labour, or to start up as small-scale entrepreneurs on their own. However, there is a need to increase capacity and intake to the schools, strengthen the quality of teaching, as well as to follow up the finished graduates in their local environment and assist them in getting sustainable jobs.
"We want the participants to come here and work, be busy and learn"
Pham Thi Thanh Tam, Executive director at REACH Vietnam
REACH is a local Vietnamese, non-government organisation specializing in vocational training and employment for disadvantaged youth.
Reach has 65 employees in nine locations across Central and Northern Vietnam, with centers in 5 provinces. In each location, Reach employ experienced facilitators that carries out the vocational training programs.
Reach and Don Bosco are part of a south-south exchange project within the education sector.
Pham Thi Thanh Tam, the Executive Director of REACH has no doubts about the goals for the FK exchange project with their partner in India.
"The FK project started in 2016 and we are currently in the second round. We chose Don Bosco in India because we have some similarities in our target group and in what we both do strategically. Like us, Don Bosco focus on skills development programs. So, we want to share experiences and good practices with each other."
She explains that Reach and the partner in India have a good relationship, also among the staff members, and that the support from FK is just what they need to share experiences and knowledge.
"It is also very good that our staff members get the opportunity to develop themselves as individuals."
Strengthening the institution
Pham explains that REACH supports youngers at two levels: vocational training from 3 to 6 months including support to find jobs, and second, follow-up work up to 6 months after their graduation.
"80% of Reach's graduates manage to find a job and hold on to it. One important reason for this is Reach's network of one thousand companies being part of a portal that encourages job placements for graduates.
"Don Bosco has a very good routine for monitoring and evaluating its program and that's something we want to learn more about. Another interesting topic for us is how they work with their business partners."
"Reach is focusing on using social media to mobilize and raise awareness to our programs. This is something we can share with Don Bosco."
"We are both proactive partners. Don Bosco also look to learn about enterprise initiatives and how we cope with challenges in this area."
As a host partner, Reach has faced with some challenges during the participants' stay specially in terms of cultural differences, but the institution is focusing on learning from that too.
"India and Vietnam are quite different in terms of culture, the language and other living conditions, even the food. But we try to be open to these challenges and be aware that they exist."
The first Reach participant in India
Anh Bui was the first Reach participant on exchange in India and has now returned to Vietnam.
"I like travelling and discover new things. The first two months was difficult. The food is totally different, as well as language and culture. But the staff from Don Bosco was available for valuable support."
"It was a fruitful year and I gained new knowledge that I can apply in Vietnam. During the exchange I observed how they do life skills training. For example, they facilitate thought games and activities and less focus on theory. I also learned more about surveys and evaluations and of course a lot about a different culture."
For the second round of the exchange Reach has sent 2 participants.
"They can support each other and overcome the challenges together." – says Pham
India in Vietnam
Simon Yeptho and Rhiedolcy Diengdoh, the FK participants from India working in Reach have specific objectives and action plans.
"We teach soft skills for blind people and teachers. My whole outlook and perspective has changed the last month. I'm sure I can contribute to positive change in Vietnam, bringing back new experiences that I can implement in India." – Simon explains enthusiastically.