BANGKOK, March 25, 2016 — Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a new partnership with 12 leading universities and vocational institutions in the Lower Mekong sub-region to empower students with essential skills to thrive in the workplace.

Selected as part of a competitive USAID Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training (USAID COMET) grants program, the following universities and vocational schools will form a network of Mekong Learning Centers hosted at their institutions:

1. University of Technology – Yatanarpon Cyber City (Burma)

2. Institute of Technology Cambodia (Cambodia)

3. University of South-East Asia (Cambodia)

4. National University of Laos (Lao PDR)

5. Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (Lao PDR)

6. Mahidol University (Thailand)

7. Maptaphut Technical College (Thailand)

8. Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education (Vietnam)

9. University of Economics (Vietnam)

10. University of Danang (Vietnam)

11. Hanoi University of Science and Technology (Vietnam)

12. Hue Industrial College (Vietnam)

“The United States is committed to developing youth potential, especially women,” said Todd Sorenson, acting director of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia. “Youth need the technical skills, as well as work readiness skills, including teamwork, communication and adaptability to succeed. The best way for youth to learn these skills is through hands-on experience with real workplace situations – by being connected with real employers, like those joining with us in this program,” added Sorenson.

According to industries in the Lower Mekong, the need for skilled graduates is clear. In a recent USAID study of employers in the Lower Mekong countries, over 71 percent indicated that they are currently looking to hire new staff to expand their business. Surveyed businesses also noted that they believe 60 percent of their staff still needs work-readiness skills training. Created by the USAID COMET program, the MekongSkills2Work network taps into partnerships through the Mekong Learning Centers at universities and training institutions. These centers will work with industry partners such as Cisco, Intel, Google and Microsoft, as well as other local employers to ensure students are receiving opportunities to learn from professional leaders in the field. “Intel is committed to connecting today’s youth to their potential, empowering them to seize the opportunities made possible by the rapidly developing knowledge economy,” said Anjan Ghosh, Regional Director of Corporate Affairs for Asia Pacific & Japan, Intel Corporation. “We believe that empowering youth through technology access, workplace readiness skills and innovation skills are essential to shape and drive the knowledge economy. Our global programs empower faculty and students to keep pace with the demand for new skills required in today’s digital world.”

Announced today at a USAID COMET Leadership Summit in Bangkok, the institutions hosting Mekong Learning Centers will receive training and resources covering workforce development, pedagogy and technology, including teaching standards and tools to help instructors effectively prepare students for the demands of tomorrow’s labor market. After a year of implementation within their own institutions, selected Mekong Learning Centers will work to adapt the MekongSkills2Work model and create a regional network of leaders in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, accounting and tourism. Lead instructors will develop and implement approaches learned through their own classes and throughout their institution. Next week, instructors will take part in a five-day training program to go beyond lectures to engaging students and collaborating with industries in their field to bridge the skill gaps between education and employment.

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For more information about the MekongSkills2Work model, visit