Vocational skills development – the gateway to the world of work

Quality vocational skills development that enables trainees to gain a foothold in the labour market and to find and keep jobs with decent working conditions can contribute to poverty reduction. The goal is economic development that benefits all. The SDC works with the public authorities and the private sector to develop training programmes tailored to the needs of the market.

Focus of the SDC's activities

The SDC supports a vocational skills development approach that can provide trainees with the skills they need to take part in the labour market and which gives them access to reasonably paid work. The idea is to enable them to acquire the professional skills to take part in the formal or informal labour market either as employees or self-employed workers.

The SDC wants to ensure that young trainees, once trained, can go on to find employment and contribute to productivity growth. The aim is to increase training opportunities and to ensure that all sections of the population – the poor and not so poor, women and men, and urban and rural residents – can benefit from them.

In order to ensure that training programmes are optimally tailored to the needs of trainees and the economy, the SDC makes every effort to involve both the public authorities and the private sector in the planning and implementation stages. The most promising training programmes comprise theoretical and practical instruction – like Switzerland’s dual vocational education and training system.

The SDC is working to improve vocational skills development opportunities, but also encourages the recognition of informal work experience and learning, including self-taught skills, which many professionals can bring to the table.

Depending on the circumstances and contexts, the SDC recommends including introductory modules for certain trades in compulsory school curricula. Career counselling services have proved useful in secondary schools. Ideally, vocational skills development should provide a bridge between basic education and the world of work. With this in mind, the SDC complements vocational skills development programmes with activities to strengthen the private sector and create jobs.


In 2017, some 71 million young people of working age are unemployed. Nearly twice this number are living in poverty, often because they lack education and training and cannot find a decent job. Only 11% of young people in secondary education around the world are enrolled in vocational programmes.

There is a clear need to increase training opportunities to enable young people to prove their potential on the labour market. Vocational skills development, like basic education, is a fundamental condition for economic and social development. It is critically important for vocational skills development to build on high-quality basic education and, if necessary, to close existing knowledge gaps.

Quality vocational skills development only makes sense, however, if those who graduate from vocational skills development programmes find employment opportunities. According to the World Bank, 40 million new jobs are expected to be created annually to absorb the growing number of young people entering the labour market, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Providing a skilled workforce can boost business productivity and competitiveness, which has a positive effect on economic growth and job creation. Offering prospects to the vulnerable and meeting the aspirations of young people is essential to avoid wasting human and economic potential.

Testimonials from beneficiaries

People who have benefited from vocational training talk about their experiences.

Gender and skills development

The SDC integrates respect for gender equality in its projects and ensures that women have access to the job market.

Current Projects

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Project completed

Programa de Reduccion de Riesgo de Desastres -PRRD 4: Promoting culture of Resilience

18.03.2014 - 31.12.2018

Bolivia is one of the countries worldwide with highest risk from impact of climate change (CC). The latter affects the socio-economic development of the country and in particular rural vulnerable livelihoods. Disaster Risk Reduction is not properly developed in public policies although the Bolivian Government is keen to reduce the vulnerability. The SDC project intends to develop a lasting/sustainable culture of resilience among public sector with training of key agents of change and raising awareness among population.

Nepal Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS)

01.02.2014 - 15.07.2020

In Nepal, 500’000 youths enter the labour market yearly but remain un- or underemployed. The project will support the Ministry of Education to establish a National Vocational Qualifications Framework and a corresponding NVQ Authority to manage it. Learners and workers, especially from disadvantaged groups, will benefit from an improved vocational training qualification and skills certification system, thus increasing their chances for sustainable and decent employment.

Project completed

Facilitating Access to Animal Resources and Markets in Agdam, Agcabadi, Barda, Beylaqan and Tartar districts of Azerbaijan (FARMS)

07.11.2013 - 31.10.2016

The project will contribute to the transition towards a free market system in target communities in central Azerbaijan through a sustainable increase of incomes of male and female farmers in animal husbandry using a market development approach. The central part of Azerbaijan has a good potential for inclusive growth in agriculture. However, lack of proper markets, services and knowledge prevent poor farmers to gain better incomes.

Back-stopping Mandate (BSM) for the Focal Point e+i

01.10.2013 - 31.12.2019

The focal point employment and income (FP e+i) is in charge of knowledge management and generation, inhouse consulting, linking knowledge-holders, and other tasks for e+i projects and programmes of SDC (and to a certain extent partners). The mandate supports the FP by adding specialised expertise in the three topics vocational skills (VSD), private (PSD) and financial sector development (FSD) and provides general administrative and knowledge management support.

Project completed

Safer Migration (SaMi) Project

16.07.2013 - 30.09.2018

SaMi addresses the needs of Nepali men and women who migrate to the Middle East and Southeast Asia on short term labour contracts. To reduce the financial and social costs of migration and to increase its financial benefits, the project facilitates access to relevant information, pre-departure skills trainings, legal and psychosocial support. SaMI also strengthens government’s capacity to effectively implement the labour migration policy and protect migrants. Some 170’000 people will benefit from the project over four years.

Project completed

Vocational Skills Development


01.05.2013 - 29.02.2016

Vocational Skills Development (VSD) is a project which SDC is co-financing with GIZ from December 2013 to March 2016 (Phase 1). The project will pilot short-term skills development training and vocational career guidance aimed at women and men who are not eligible to enrol in the formal TVET sector. Interventions in six Western aimags, Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan and Choir will enhance the employability of around 5,000 rural and urban men and women who lack marketable skills required to be productively engaged in the economy.

Project completed

Youth Development Programme

01.04.2013 - 30.06.2018

The Youth Development Programme (YDP) will assist Mongolia in building the resilience of young men and women and reducing their vulnerability in the face of rapid social and economic change. It will focus on youth in mining areas, and vulnerable young men and women in urban areas and the Western aimags. The Programme will enhance the life-skills of 244,000 young men and women, equipping them with skills for a responsible and resilient life.

Project completed

Project Planned: Institutional support for the Myanmar Center for Vocational Training

01.04.2013 - 31.12.2018

Myanmar is set to enter a period of unprecedented rapid economic growth, enhanced by regional trade and labor flow foreseen with the entry to the ASEAN Community in 2015. Yet Myanmar’s laborers are undereducated and underskilled to take advantage of the opportunities. SDC provides institutional support to the Center for Vocational Training, an established quality provider of Swiss-style ‘dual system’ vocational education in Myanmar, including life and technical skills education for disadvantaged youth.

Project completed

Vocational Education and Training Laos (VELA)

01.01.2013 - 30.06.2019

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) supports a reform of technical and vocational education and training in Lao PDR to ensure that Lao youth—particularly from marginalized groups—have access to quality education, can obtain a high level of skills, and can find and keep well-paid jobs.

Project completed

Professional education and training to enhance employability of young people in Nicaragua

01.01.2013 - 30.06.2017

Nicaragua’s need for significant improvements at all levels of education is widely recognized. The recent Vocational Education and Training (VET) system reform and SDC’s good results in the cooperation with the National Technological Institute (INATEC) provide a good base for a new project phase. The overall goal of the project is to reduce poverty and vulnerability among youth. The employability and inclusion of young men and women from rural areas and marginal urban settings into the labour market will be enhanced.

Project completed

Support Nigerian Diaspora – Vocational training initiative

01.12.2012 - 31.05.2016

The Global Programme Migration and Development of SDC supports NIDOE-Swiss in strengthening its skills and expertise and thereby enables it to implement development projects in Nigeria. NIDOE-Swiss will implement a project funded by SDC to improve the vocational training of students and their employability in Nigeria. The organisation's knowledge and skills will contribute to the economic development in Nigeria.

Object 73 – 84 of 100