World Bank invests $17.7 million in FSM skills, employability enhancement project


PALIKIR, Pohnpei (PRESS RELEASE) — Under the leadership of His Excellency David W. Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Department of Education, the Department of
Transportation, Communication & Infrastructure, the Department of Resources & Development, and the Department of Finance & Administration have joined together to design the FSM Skills and Employability Enhancement (SEE) Project, which will be generously funded through a $17,700,000 investment from the FSM’s partners at the World Bank. The FSM SEE Project includes infrastructure, technical assistance, and capacity development. Funded by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the SEE Project is a key initiative of the Panuelo-George administration, designed to improve educational and economic opportunities for the FSM’s youth.

FSM President David W. Panuelo

“The FSM workforce lacks the skills necessary for developing the economy and building the Nation, and for a long time the FSM has been importing skilled workers from outside,” the Honorable Gardenia Aisek, Secretary of Education, said in a statement. “The [SEE Project] will provide the education and training in vocational areas needed to produce a skilled workforce for developing the FSM.”

The SEE Project will address these goals through multiple initiatives. First, it will review and update the National Career & Technical Education Curriculum Standards & Benchmarks and provide training to teachers across all four states.

“The FSM Skills and Employability Enhancement Project will make a huge impact within the country’s education system, in particular technical and vocational education and training (TVET),” said Rachel Salomon, Career & Technical Education Coordinator at the Department of Education.

“SEEP will ensure high-quality TVET programs and quality teacher training to build a competitive workforce where learners are positioned for career success.”

Second, the SEE Project will provide performance grants to designated high schools in Yap, Chuuk,
Pohnpei, and Kosrae, which can be used to upgrade and purchase relevant equipment and materials
to strengthen hands-on learning opportunities.

“Some students with different abilities learn better with hands-on instruction,” Arthur Albert, Acting Secretary of Education and Assistant Secretary for the Division of Student Services, said.

“Most elected leaders profess the need to build our future in fully structured and culturally appropriate technical and vocational training programs for all our children, and this is it!”

A third program component will create a flagship vocational learning center for the Nation’s most dedicated high school seniors, to be located at the former Ponape Agriculture and Technical School (PATS) campus in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei.

The Department of Transportation, Communications & Infrastructure will lead the efforts related to this campus renovation, to develop the FSM Skills Academy (FSA). The FSA facility will be designed to produce a “green” campus, featuring as many environmental/sustainability design concepts as possible while still being cost-effective and reducing operating expenses. The campus will feature practical system design concepts related to accessibility, renewable energy, rainwater harvesting, and energy use optimization to produce a world-class, modern TVET institution that can fulfill the region’s needs.

This one-year of intensive skills training will lead to the opportunity to earn internationally recognized certifications and licenses. “Learners will be able to pursue their chosen trades at the secondary level and receive internationally-recognized licenses or certificates in their fields or trades for gainful employment right after graduation, either self-employed or within the industry,” Career & Technical Education Coordinator Rachel Salomon said. “Existing workers will also be able to take the tests for certifications, which could expand their employment opportunities and increase their wages.”

“We wanted to have more trained and certified homegrown workers with a rooted sense of ownership and obligations to help with the needs of the local, state, and national communities,” Assistant Secretary Arthur Albert said. “More trained youth and adults will contribute to the building of the communities and the nation. We’ll have more products on the shelf with label ‘Made in the FSM’.”

Addressing economic challenges is complex and requires the collaboration of many departments, agencies, and stakeholders. “The vocational program in the FSM has not been given the attention that it needs, and I am excited that the FSM has been given the opportunity through this multi-faceted project to develop and upgrade the vocational program, which will enable many FSM citizens to gain skills and become professionals in their chosen trade or vocation,” Secretary Gardenia Aisek said. “I want to thank the World Bank for providing the funding to upgrade the vocational area of the education sector.”

“Words cannot express how proud I am of Secretary Aisek and her team at the Department of Education, and how thankful we are for the World Bank’s financial support for this project,” President Panuelo said in a statement. “The need to strengthen vocational education in our country so as to improve economic conditions at home has been discussed at virtually every education focused government conference, meeting house, church, and sakau market, for years. Vice President George and I did not dream this up by ourselves over a weekend; this project is the result of years of grassroots support at all levels of our society. Human resource development is the most important part of our nation-building process and efforts. The FSM Skills and Employability Enhancement Project is one of the initiatives the Panuelo-George administration is most proud of, and it will result in tangible, visible improvement in the lives of our country.”

The SEE Project is expected to launch in August 2022, though recruitment for key positions has already begun. Citizens with the intention to take actions today for our Nation’s prosperity tomorrow are encouraged to apply for the SEE Project Manager position here:

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