Official Development Assistance (ODA)

(2) Vocational Training and Industrial Human Resources Development, and Employment Creation

To achieve quality growth in countries and thereby solve poverty and other problems that these countries face, it is essential for their populations to acquire the necessary vocational skills. In developing countries, however, opportunities to receive quality education and training are limited. Moreover, ineffective use of human resources is stifling opportunities for earning sufficient incomes. A shortage of appropriate human resources thus poses a major obstacle to industrial promotion and industry development.

Especially in countries and regions affected by conflict, improving the livelihood of the socially vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, women, and demobilized soldiers, is a critical issue for the reconstruction phase. In this regard, vocational training as a component of the social safety net (a system in which the entire society secures the lives of each and every person) plays a pivotal role.

“Work” constitutes a fundamental activity of mankind that shapes society. Increasing income by getting a job (employment) is an important means for improving the living standards of the poor. Nevertheless, the number of unemployed in the world is expected to exceed 201 million in 2017, exceeding the 2016 level by 3.4 million.(Note 2) To create stable employment under these circumstances that will lead to poverty reduction, each country faces the urgent task of preparing for risks by developing social safety nets, as well as engaging in an international effort across countries to realize “decent work.”

Against this backdrop, the goal “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” was established as the Goal 8 of the SDGs.

<Japan's Efforts>

•Vocational Training and Industrial Human Resources Development

Based on requests from developing countries to develop human resources who can respond to diverse needs in technology and skills, Japan provides support to leading polytechnic and public vocational training schools which will serve as core centers in each country. In implementing this assistance, Japan, in cooperation with the private sector, supports the capacity building of teachers and trainers, the reinforcement of the operational capacity of training schools, and curriculum improvement, in order to further strengthen the linkages between education and employment.

In the area of industrial human resources development, Japan in collaboration with the industry sector implemented 60 comprehensive cooperation projects in 30 countries between 2000 and 2017. The projects drew on Japan's insight and know-how for the development and revision of curriculums and teaching materials, along with the capacity enhancement of trainers. Additionally, Japan supported Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions by improving facilities and equipment at 11 schools in six countries. Japan also contributed to skill development through 13 projects in eight countries, with the aim of improving the livelihoods of women, the disabled, demobilized soldiers, as well as refugees and others whose lives have been impacted by conflict.

In the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting held in 2015, Japan announced the “Industrial Human Resource Development Cooperation Initiative” for boosting the industrial human resources development that will be useful for the sustained growth of Asia. Under the initiative, Japan ascertains human resources development needs through dialogue with each country, strengthens industry-academia-government cooperation, and supports industrial human resources development in the Asia region through an all-Japan approach. For example, Japan announced the Japan-Thailand Industrial Human Resource Development Cooperation Initiative in 2016 based on a round-table conference held to discuss human resources development measures, attended by industry, government, and academia participants from Japan and Thailand. A memorandum of cooperation was exchanged in June 2017 and steady efforts are underway, including the nurturing of more than 49,000 industrial human resources in Asia by the end of March 2017, achieved through technical cooperation provided to the partner countries and other means. Furthermore, in TICAD VI in 2016, Prime Minister Abe announced that for three years from 2016 to 2018, Japan will provide assistance in human resources development to approximately 10 million people by making use of a strength of Japan, “Quality.”

Moreover, under the “Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016” (decided by the Cabinet in 2016), with the aim of contributing to creating innovation in both Japan and developing countries in Asia, Japan decided to launch a new initiative of ODA (“Innovative Asia” Initiative) to offer opportunities for training, etc. for approximately 1,000 competent students from Asia over five years from FY2017. This new initiative will enhance the circulation of human resources between Japan and Asia, and has been highly appraised by the partner countries on occasions such as the Japan-India Summit Meeting held in September 2017 and the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting held in November of the same year.

As for the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), it conducts trainings, etc. in Japan and primarily Southeast Asian countries(Note 3) with which Japan has been expanding and deepening economically interdependent relationships. The trainings are designed to transfer the government's and the private sector's accumulated know-how on Japan's skills evaluation system (Japan's National Trade Skills Test), with a view to developing and securing a quality workforce.(Note 4) In FY2016, a total of 149 people from seven countries went through these training programs, bringing the cumulative total to approximately 2,200 people including trainings conducted in FY2014 and earlier. The training is expected to develop and improve skills evaluation systems in these countries, which in turn will promote the development of their skilled workers and elevate their social standing through increased employment opportunities.

In addition, through Japan's contributions to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the ILO's Skills and Employability Programme in Asia and the Pacific (SKILLSAP) conducted surveys, studies, seminars concerning training on vocational training policies, vocational training methods, and vocational training information networks, which were attended by members of governments, employers, and worker organizations from countries in the region.


Japan provides support in the area of employment as one of its approaches for reducing poverty, which is positioned as one of the priorities of Japan's development cooperation. The question of how to address issues such as dealing with serious industrial accidents that occur frequently, and protecting the rights of workers and stabilizing employment amidst the expansion of the global supply chain, is a common issue for each country. In light of this, the improvement of the working environment from the global perspective is becoming an increasingly important issue. To cope with these problems, Japan provides technical cooperation that supports developing countries centering on Asia, through means such as voluntary contributions to the ILO. In this way, Japan contributes to improving occupational safety and health standards, as well as to the improvement of labor laws and enforcement systems aimed at creating and enhancing the working environment, with a view to realizing “decent work.”


The Vocational Training Program for Internally Displaced Iraqis

In collaboration with UNDP (October 2016 - January 2017, April - May 2017, August 2017 - )

The Vocational Training Program for Internally-Displaced Iraqis provides vocational training mainly for internally displaced persons (IDPs), whose number has increased since ISIL's invasion of Mosul, under a partnership between Toyota Iraq*1 and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). As a first step, a vehicle maintenance program was held for five trainees from October 2016 to January 2017. With this program, trainees who were selected from among IDPs by the UNDP based on the Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP)*2 underwent the vocational training at Toyota Iraq. Three trainees have graduated from the program after undergoing classroom learning and practical skills courses at Toyota Iraq and on-the-job training at two official dealerships in Erbil City. (The remaining two trainees were repatriated as a result of their hometowns being liberated from ISIL during the program).

Trainees who are receiving vocational training and program representatives (Photo: UNDP/ICRRP)

Trainees who are receiving vocational training and program representatives (Photo: UNDP/ICRRP)

As a second step, two courses were held from April to May 2017. Four trainees attended a management course on spare parts storage and three individuals attended a customer service (call center) course. Notably, the three trainees attending the call center course were the first women to participate in this program. As with the first step of the program, after undergoing classroom learning, the trainees split into their respective courses and underwent On-the-Job Training at Toyota Iraq, and all seven have graduated. In August, training for members of the third graduating class is scheduled to begin (as of June 2017). This practical program that utilizes private-sector know-how will continue as an implementation of vocational training for internally-displaced Iraqis, expanding its scope continuously. It can be described as a good example of collaboration between the Japanese private company and the UN organization.

*1 A joint venture between Sumitomo Corporation and Sardar Group, Iraq's largest automotive business group. It undertakes maintenance, repair, and sale of spare parts and vehicles for Toyota in Iraq's major regions.

*2 As part of support for families trying to rebuild lives destroyed by ISIL, the ICRRP supports regions where there is a high degree of social tension and communities are struggling to respond to the impact of crises.

  1. Note 2: Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), “World Employment and Social Outlook 2017”
  2. Note 3: Indonesia, Thailand, Viet Nam, Myanmar, India, Cambodia, and Laos
  3. Note 4: There are two types of training in this project: “training for people in charge of the creation of test standards and test problems” and “training for people in charge of tests and marking.” The number of participants above is the total value for both of these types of training.