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Australia Investing in Job Skills for Young Lao Women

Twenty-eight new female university graduates have improved their professional skills through a program funded by the Government of Australia. The graduates spent five weeks undertaking an Australian qualification in leadership and management through the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and are now ready to take the first step in their careers with added confidence.

Mr Andreas Zurbrugg, Charge d’Affaires of the Australian Embassy, said the course, part of a larger program focused on women’s leadership, is aimed at helping Laos fully utilise its human resources.  “For this to happen, we believe that women need to have the same opportunities as men, in government, in business and in the community sector”, he said.

“All of the participants in this course have graduated from the National University of Laos through the Laos Australian National Scholarships program, and the extra skills these young women gained through this course will give them a head start in entering the workforce.”

Mr Zurbrugg was speaking on Thursday evening at the program’s Skills Expo at the Crowne Plaza in Vientiane, where the graduates met with a large number of potential employers.  He was joined by Mr Colin Melvin, Director of Commercial Services, Queensland University of Technology, trainers and teachers from QUT and the National University of Laos and representatives from the Vientiane business community, employer groups and government officials. 

During the Skills Expo, the graduates put on show the teamwork, leadership, management, communication and innovation skills they learnt during the full-time five-week training program delivered by QUT, one of Australia’s leading universities.

When combined with their undergraduate degree and the English language skills already gained through their Australian scholarship, we think these 28 young women would be an asset to any employer,” said Mr Zurbrugg.

Ms Vannaly Liemphachanh, a graduate from Vientiane Province was glad to take part in the course. “I have gained new knowledge and skills that make me understand the workplace environment. I now am more ready and confident to be employed and I believe I can perform effectively and efficiently in a workplace,” she said.

Ms Huaxiong Phengxiong from Luang Prabang Province said that she appreciated the new skills learned during the course, which were different from the technical knowledge acquired during a regular degree program.  “I am looking for a position with an international project, where I can use my English as well as my other abilities to help the development of my country”, she said.

The Australian women’s leadership program will continue in 2018, and includes an Executive Development component for women already in the workforce, as well as a second training course for university graduates.