WALTHAM, MA | EDC has been awarded $12 million over five years to work with universities, employers, and U.S. technology companies in Southeast Asia to improve employment options for young people. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the project known as COMET (Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training) aims to reach more than 20,000 youth in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
Skilled workers are in high demand by the private sector but in short supply in the Lower Mekong. COMET focuses on training university students and graduates in specific fields, namely science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) as well as accounting and tourism, so they can develop the skills needed to secure employment in the region. EDC will work closely with U.S. technology companies, including Intel, Cisco, and Google, using their applications to reach learners. EDC also intends to partner with a local university in Thailand and a STEM-oriented university in the United States to better understand the job market, high-demand occupations, and educational content and curricula needed to prepare students for employment.
“EDC is excited and privileged to apply our expertise, experience, and success in this area of development to a new region of the world,” said EDC’s Mike Tetelman, project director. “Through COMET, we will work to ensure that more young people are getting the skills they need to meet the demands of employers. From urban Bangkok to rural villages, we will be constructing a program that excites learners, teachers, and employers.”
Headquartered in Bangkok, COMET will work with a variety of institutions throughout the region, including 12 universities and 90 vocational schools. The project plans to train 500 master instructors to reach 23,000 students. It will also develop a dynamic Web portal, with the goal of reaching 50,000 students each month, and will focus on making content appealing for young adult learners, engaging them through social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.
COMET was highlighted by the White House during President Barack Obama’s most recent visit to Myanmar and is a component of the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot to Asia,” a sustained effort to strengthen U.S. alliances and build engagement in the region.
Learn more about COMET and the U.S. focus on science, technology, and entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia.
EDC designs, implements, and evaluates programs to improve education, health, and economic opportunity worldwide. Visit www.edc.org.