Vocational education and training – developing new skills

Young women receiving training in a workshop in Bangladesh
The SDC ensures that vocational training opportunities are available to all segments of the population of its partner countries, in particular to the poorest and most socially vulnerable groups. © SDC

Vocational education and training can make a decisive contribution to poverty reduction. The aim is to provide people with skills they need to take part in economic life, open up new prospects and access to appropriately paid work.

SDC focus

The SDC is committed to the development of vocational education and training opportunities that are accessible to all and enable lifelong learning. Its activities are aimed at the poorest and most socially vulnerable sections of the population, young people and women as well as rural populations. In this context, it endeavours to establish an efficient and flexible education system that addresses local requirements. The SDC has two priority areas:

  • Facilitating access to vocational education and training opportunities This objective requires the SDC to significantly increase opportunities offered in its partner countries and to involve private training organisations. For this purpose, the SDC supports the definition of national standards clarifying the role of public and private education and training providers. It also ensures that vocational education and training opportunities are available to all. This requires lowering entry barriers, such as incomplete basic education, limited financial resources or training centres that are too far away. The SDC supports innovative teaching and learning methods, expanding and adapting such options for rural regions. The SDC also includes business expertise in vocational education and training curricula to promote self-employment.
  • Promoting the relevance and quality of vocational education and training opportunities As for the second objective, the SDC is involved in bringing vocational education and training more into line with labour market requirements and demand. Its interventions are based on the existing conditions of employment at local and regional levels. It therefore encourages the involvement of the private sector in developing occupational profiles and in financing training. The SDC promotes further education options that enable employees to adapt to the changing labour market conditions.


Vocational training, together with basic education, is one of the main preconditions for economic and social development. In West Africa, a third of young people has received no education or training, and is unemployed. The causes are many, two of which are poor literacy skills and training not adapted to labour market requirements. When training exists, it is limited to urban areas. Economic development requires training and further education opportunities for people of all ages, and the development of training options accessible to all social groups and to people of all levels of knowledge.

Targeted training options and gateways

The poorest and most socially vulnerable segments of population are often excluded from economic life because they lack the necessary qualifications. Training offers  designed for these young people and adults help them take control of their lives. This vocational training also needs to address market needs, including the market not regulated by the state. Persons living in rural regions and those who are interested in self-employment should have access to the training they need. It is also important to ensure a good level of basic education, which vocational training can build on, and consolidate where necessary. Finally, gateways between vocational and academic education and training must be put in place.