The Government of Laos and Team Europe partners, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the European Union, gathered today in Vientiane Capital to launch the “Skills for Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry” (STAF) program with a total budget of EUR 25 million.
This program will train thousands of mostly young people to develop their skills and help them find a job more easily in the tourism, agriculture, and forestry sectors in Laos. The new 5 year-program is jointly supported by the Governments of Laos, Luxembourg,
Switzerland, and the European Union.
The STAF launching event coincided with the first Program Steering Committee and was chaired by Associate Professor Dr. Phout Simmalavong, Minister of Education and Sports, who was joined by the co-chairs, Mr. Thomas Lammar, Chargé d’Affaires, Luxembourg Embassy to Laos, Ms. Ina Marčiulionytė, Ambassador of the European Union to Laos, and Ms. Aurélie Righetti, Deputy Director of Cooperation for the Mekong Region, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This was followed by the first STAF Program Steering Committee meeting.
“The STAF program is a key support to the Government of Laos in its commitment to sustainable development as set out in the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan 2021-2025. For Laos to stay competitive in a regional context we must equip our incoming workforce with the right skill set sought by employers in the private sector”, said Associate Professor Dr. Phout Simmalavong.
The STAF program aims to improve the skills and employability of young women and men in the tourism, agriculture, and forestry sectors. This will be done by providing technical and financial assistance to improve the relevance and quality of training, increase the availability and accessibility of courses including through the provision of scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and support learners in the transition from training to jobs or self-employment.
“This ‘Team Europe approach’ means joining forces so that our joint external action becomes more than the sum of its parts. By working together and pooling our resources and expertise, we deliver more effectiveness and greater impact.” stressed Ms. Ina Marčiulionytė during the official launch ceremony.
The STAF program is expected to directly benefit over 20,000 young women and men, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. “By improving the skills of young people in these three key sectors, we will contribute to increasing employability, creating jobs, and thereby boost economic growth, and reduce poverty in Laos.” further explained by Mr. Thomas Lammar, Chargé d’Affaires, Luxembourg Embassy to Laos.
Its interventions – mainly in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Sports, Department of Technical and Vocational Education – the tourism sector will cover the provinces of Vientiane Province, Khammouane, Bolikhamxay, Bokeo, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Champasack, and Vientiane Capital. As for agriculture and forestry, its partner provinces are Vientiane Province, Khammouane, Bolikhamxay, Bokeo and Luang Prabang.
“Inclusive Economic Development is one of Switzerland’s key priorities in the Mekong region. With this important program, we want to ensure that young people can have better employment and income and are more resilient to economic crises”, said Jean-Gabriel Duss.
The Skills for Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry Program (STAF) is co-financed by the Governments of the Laos, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Switzerland and the European Union, and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports of Laos and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.