The Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training program (COMET) helped narrow the development gap and increases regional integration by equipping youth throughout the MUSP region with market-driven skills by enabling them to succeed in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community. COMET better prepared youth for employment by bridging the gap between education institutions and employers. The project supported universities and vocational schools to adapt their curriculum and teaching approach to better meet private-sector demands and engaged enterprises to strengthen work-based learning opportunities and internships.
COMET helped provide youth in the region with the skills they needed to fill high-demand jobs in the marketplace, specifically in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Accounting, and Tourism sectors. COMET also strengthened workforce competitiveness in these sectors by providing students and job seekers with relevant skills – and opportunities to practice those skills in a real workplace setting.
Through annual labor market assessments, the project identified the priorities, challenges and opportunities in the region as voiced by employers, education institutions and jobseekers. Through the MekongSkills2Work Network – a group of universities, vocational colleges, and industry partners – COMET promoted innovative education with technology-based solutions. Instructors were trained in dynamic classroom approaches, such as exploring real-world problems through project-based learning, and in modern strategies for complementing online learning with in-person classes. Work-based learning opportunities that provide hands-on experience, such as internships, were built into the curriculum.
COMET has strengthened teacher training and equipped youth with valuable market skills to include the use of cutting-edge technology, as well as soft skills such as adaptability, communications, and critical thinking through its training and events.
Youth throughout the MUSP region competed in COMET’s keystone event, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Innovation Challenge, in which they pitched innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing food security challenges. U.S. companies including Cisco and Intel provided mentorship and hosted a “boot camp” to aid the teams in refining their technology solutions. In particular, COMET recruited aspiring female youth leaders in STEM to further work networking programs, contributing to the career development of young women.