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news | January 09, 2017 | Thailand | Emergency

Preparing for return: ACTED Thailand implements vocational training for Burmese refugees

ACTED Thailand offers internship opportunities to Burmese and Thai graduates with private sector employees - ACTED Thailand, 2017

Since January 2015, ACTED in Thailand has been running its second vocational training program for refugees in the refugee camps located in Mae Hong Son province, on the Thai-Myanmar border. The action targets refugees living in Ban Mae Nai Soi and Ban Mae Surin camps, many of whom fled Kayah State in Myanmar, located right across the border, as many as thirty years ago. At the end of 2016, UNHCR estimated the two camps to be home to over 12,400 refugees, all of which will soon have to consider their options for the future, as Myanmar continues to stabilize and the prospect for return nears.

ACTED’s vocational training programme provides the skills required to access secure livelihoods in Myanmar. By enabling refugees to be self-reliant, this ACTED EU-funded vocational training programme ensures preparedness of the refugees for return. So far, it has provided vocational training courses to over 1,000 refugees, complemented with life skills development courses and information sessions on the options of returning to Myanmar or resettling in Thailand or a third country.

To maximize the impact of the vocational training courses, ACTED also offers 8-week internship opportunities to 150 graduates in Myanmar and Thailand with private sector employers, and provides small enterprise development grants to 150 graduates to support the start-up and development of their business plans.

“If I have more than one skill in life, I have more chances of survival wherever I go”

24-year-old Nye Day is a young man dedicated to pursuing his dreams of working in a big city. He is described by others as deeply loyal and supportive to his family, while always willing to extend a helping hand to those around him. He has been living in the Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp for the past five years, while his family remained in their home village in Kayah State of Myanmar. Nye Day is now pursuing an internship in Loikaw, Kayah State, to gain work experience in Mr. Dar Soe’s motorcycle repair shop. Thanks to the training and this internship, he hopes to find a permanent full-time job in the city.

Nye Day is currently about half way through his internship, and has already improved his knowledge in motorcycle maintenance and his skills in customer service. He hopes to use his newly learned skills to find a job in which he earns enough money to support his family. As his parents remain in the village but are too old to continue the manual work on the farm, he is determined to provide for their wellbeing. Additionally, Nye Day wants to support his younger brother by paying for his education.

A positive impact on the local business

Mr. Dar Soe himself has graduated from the motorcycle repair vocational training course set up at Government Technical High School in Loikaw in collaboration with ACTED, before starting up his own shop. He has been collaborating with ACTED by providing internship positions since early 2016. In his experience, the internships bring about a positive impact on the business, stating that having interns enables his shop to perform repairs more quickly, and has also increased the town’s respect for his shop. Despite Nye Day only being half way through his placement, Mr. Dar Soe has already recognized his improvement and skill, praising the work he performs.

Nye Day’s coworkers are also happy to have him as part of the team, noting his insights when it comes to sharing experiences and his support in solving problems.

The internship placement has provided development opportunities for the business and for Nye Day alike, with Mr. Dar Soe positive about continuing to take on interns in collaboration with ACTED in the future. As for Nye Day, he is thankful for the opportunity and the added skills it has given, and is determined to leave the refugee camp and to find work in the city once he has completed his placement.