• Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Lao PDR
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Timor Leste
  • Vietnam


Key Indicators

  • Capital


  • Main Industries/Sectors

    Oil & Gas


This profile is represented by the National Institute for Labour Force Development (Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento de Mão de Obra or INDMO) - an autonomous body, which works closely with Secretariat of State for Vocational Training Policy and Employment (SEPFOPE). SEA-VET.NET shall supplement more information on technical secondary schools, as well as other TVET line Ministries, TVET institutions and agencies in the course of time. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to share relevant information to help us further develop the profile.



Timor-Leste is a nation of young people; 74% Timorese are below the age of 35.1(p2) This distinct ‘youth bulge’2(p22) represents both an opportutnity and a risk. A large of number of young people, particularly young women, remain unprepared for work and life, due to gaps in education and skills.  A lot depends on the quality of this workforce and its participation in building a prosperous Timor-Leste.

According to the UNDP Timor-Leste National Human Development Report - Planning the Opportunities for a Youthful Population (2018), 88% of the youth ‘experience deprivations in education’.1(p3) Furthermore, it is estimated that only 3% have access to post-secondary education.3

Apart from the issue of skills shortage and lack of work-readiness of the workforce, issues of underlying imbalance in demand and supply of labour and high unemployment rates need to be addressed immediately. It is expected that an additional 200,000 new people will join the working-age population in the next ten years.4(p8) To cope with this, over 18,000 new jobs will need to be created annually.2(p22) Moreover, despite the high unemployment rates (national: 11%; youth: 21.9% - LFS 2013),5 only a small portion of working-age population (31%) participates in the labour force. People currently oustide the labour force, as well as new joinees must possess skills that are in demand for gainful employment.

Timor-Leste prepares to build a highly diverse and skilled future-ready workforce by reducing skill gaps through the provision of technical and vocational education. It places special focus on youth and children due to the changing population structure, which will soon lead to an opening of 30-40 year ‘demographic window of opportunity’.1(p30)

TVET in Timor-Leste relies heavily on the non-formal sector to addresss majority of its training needs. The government has taken concrete steps to formalise TVET by adopting a two-layered system wherein technical education is provided at secondary as well as post-secondary and higher education levels. While the Ministry of Education (MoE) is responsible for technical secondary schools, Secretária de Estado para a Política de Formação Profissional e Emprego (Secretariat of State for Vocational Training Policy and Employment, or SEPFOPE) and the Agência Nacional para a Avaliação e Acreditação Academica (National Agency for Academic Assessment and Accreditation, or ANAAA) are responsible for post-secondary and higher education levels respectively.

As Timor-Leste makes a gradual transition from non-formal to formal training, it uses the Sector-wide Approach (SWAp)6(p17) to involve the private sector to assess labour market needs and to collaborate with TVET line ministries, agencies and community organisations.

This profile outlines the TVET system in Timor-Leste and provides information on more recent efforts and developments.


Timor-Leste Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030 (SDP)7 has identified Quality Education (SDG 4) and Decent Work & Economic Growth (SDG 8) as prime enablers in eradicating poverty (final SDG 1) by 2030 (fig. 1). It has chosen the formulation of the ‘Technical and Vocational Education and Training Plan 2011-2030’ (TVET Plan) 6 as one of the five priority actions6(p27) to achieve SDG 1.

Figure 1:Timor-Leste SDP Roadmap2(p17)
Figure 1:Timor-Leste SDP Roadmap2(p17)

Timor-Leste’s TVET Plan aligns itself with the SDP and principles of the SWAp.6(p17) It envisions a training system wherein,

“Training and skills development will provide Timorese people with increased opportunities to participate in a society that has more services, is more prosperous and is more equitable.”6(p5)

 A 2030 training system will be characterised by:

  • The young people of Timor-Leste following clearly-linked pathways that take them from school to training to work and to higher education;
  • A skilled labour force driving increased services, industrial development, economic diversification and innovation;
  • Training being measured by its quality and how training services match the needs of industry and communities; and
  • Industry and civil society working in partnership with Government to increase the skills of all people and to increase opportunities for secure and meaningful work.


SDP sets out the following objectives specifically with regard to TVET7(p220):

Short term (2011-2015):

  • A paradigm shift in the quality and relevance of secondary education will have occurred, allowing students to acquire the practical skills to enter employment or to learn the core scientific-humanistic knowledge needed to continue their studies in higher education
  • A Technical and Vocational Education and Training Plan will have been developed

Medium term (2016-2020):

  • A National Training Commitment will have been implemented, providing new training opportunities across Timor-Leste
  • A National Labour Content Policy will be in place, ensuring that international and national businesses provide training opportunities
  • Significant investment will have been made in building training facilities and in developing human resources in the vocational training sector
  • A Centre for Employment and Vocational Guidance will be established in each district to provide employment services and advice
  • The training and vocational education system will be providing Timor-Leste with the skilled people we need to continue to build our nation

Long term (2021-2030):

  • Graduates of the higher education system will have the advanced skills and knowledge needed to analyse, design, build and maintain the social and economic infrastructure of Timor-Leste

The TVET Plan6(p7) matches its objectives with the SDP objectives and performance indicators (fig. 2); these are:

 Short term (2011-2015):

  1. Establishment of National Training Commitment
  2. Establishment of National Skills, Employment and Productivity Council
  3. Development of Labour Market Information System
  4. Training funding reform
  5. Skills need analysis in key industries and regions are conducted
  6. Capacity building of training resources and organisations are conducted
  7. Infrastructure investment in key industries and districts

Medium term (2016-2020):

  1. All industries have skills standards
  2. National traineeship system is developed
  3. Labour Content Policy is established
  4. Industry skills center is established
  5. National network of accredited training providers is established
  6. Articulation of training from school to TVET to work to higher skills
  7. Review of TVET system: funding, curriculum & demand

Long term (2021-2030):

  1. Skilled labour force driving increased services and economic development, diversification & innovation
  2. Training system is measured by quality and industry demand
  3. Industry, society & Government partners on increasing skills of all people & creating new opportunities for secure work
Figure 2: Timor-Leste SDP and TVET Plan6(p7)
Figure 2: Timor-Leste SDP and TVET Plan6(p7)



The Program of the Fifth Constitutional Government (2012–2017 Legislature) states that “Timor-Leste must address skills shortage and provide everyone - young, unemployed, women and people in the districts - with the skills to secure a job and contribute to our nation-building.”8(p16)

A number of laws and decrees9 have been put forward and implemented for the development of a demand-led skilled workforce10 steered by technical and vocational skills training. In general, these align with the national educational and employment goals and lay the foundation for formulation of strategies to -

  1. create necessary structures, agencies and frameworks to facilitate the impartingof skills and development of a future-ready workforce;
  2. achieve synergy in strategy implementation such that various TVET line ministries and agencies work in tandem;
  3. link industry needs with educational systems to develop curricula that are accredited, recognised and imparted by a pool of qualified TVET personnel; and
  4. develop continual funding sources and measure impact for accountability and future decisions.

 Some important laws and decrees are10(p36-37),58,59:

  • Decree Law of the Government No. 21/2012 - creates Centro Nacional de Formacao Profissional Becora (CNFP Becora)
  • Decree Law of the Government No. 17/2012 - recognises the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Timor-Leste (CCI)
  • Decree Law of the Government No. 36/2011 - createsthe Timor-Leste National Qualifications Framework (TLNQF)
  • Decree Law of the Government No. 12/2011 - regulates the Human Capital Development Fund (FDCH)
  • Decree-Law of the Government No. 22/2010 -defines Organic Law of the Ministry of Education58
  • Decree Law of the Government No. 21/2010 - creates the National Agency for Academic Assessment and Accreditation (ANAAA)
  • Decree-Law of the Government No. 8/2010 - approves Curricula, Implementation Scheme and Certification Model, Organization and Evaluation of Technical Secondary Schools Law on Vocational Training
  • Decree-Law of the Government No. 36/2009 - defines Legal Status of Access to Higher Education9
  • Decree-Law of the Government No. 4/2009 - creates the National Center for Employment and Vocational Training (CNEFP Tibar)
  • Decree-Law of the Government No. 29/2008 - establishes the Employment and Vocational Training Fund (FEFOP)9
  • Law of the Parliament No. 14/2008 - Education Foundation Law
  • Law of the Parliament No. 14/2008 - Education System Framework9
  • Decree-Law of the Government No. 8/2008 - creates the National Labor Force Development Institute (INDMO)
  • Article 10 under the Decree-Law of the Government No. 8/2008 - mentions establishment of Special Sub-Commissions or Industry Sub-Commissions by the INDMO58
  • Decree-Law of the Government No. 3/2008 – creates and defines Organic Structure of the Secretary of State for Professional Training and Employment (SEPFOPE)9
  • Ministerial Diploma No. 62/2016 -Functions of the National Directorate for Vocational Training (DNAFOP)59
  • Section 19 (Youth) - Fundamental Rights, Duties, Liberties and Guarantees in the RDTL11
  • Section 59 (Education & Culture) - Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Duties in the RDTL11
  • Article 100 under Law of the Parliament No. 4/2012 - mentions the establishment of ‘National Labour Council’ regulated under Timor-Leste Labour Code60

The ‘Technical and Vocational Education and Training Plan 2011-2030’ (TVET Plan)6 lays out the TVET strategy of Timor-Leste. The TVET Plan takes into consideration the following key policy documents:

“A training system that addresses the mid-level skill formation requirements of the formal economy is especially central to the overall human resource development strategy” of Timor-Leste.13(p1)

Figure 3: Structure and Topics of the SDP2(p8)
Figure 3: Structure and Topics of the SDP2(p8)

The policies setout in the SDP7 cover three key areas: social capital, infrastructure development and economic development. ‘Education and Training’ is recognised as a means to develop human resources or build social capital (fig. 3) and strategically precedes the other two areas.

In order to build this social capital via ‘Education and Training’, Timor-Leste requires training infrastructure, relevant curriculum, teaching and learning resources, qualified TVET personnel etc.

The SDP proposes the following strategies and actions6(p27) to achieve this; medium term TVET objectives in particular are summarised in Table 1.

1 National Training System
  • Establish qualifications framework for a high-quality national training system
  • Develop national training standards in major occupations
  • Approve national and industry curricula
  • Build the capacity of training providers across industries and districts to deliver accredited training
2 National Training Commitment
  • Provide formal training each year for up to 50% of young people aged from 16 to 18 years old, school leavers and other people requiring training to get a job or start a business
  • Provide fully-funded training for one year at a registered training provider via the National Training Ticket (Stream One)
  • Provide participants with training with an Accredited Training Provider and on-the-job training via the National Traineeship Programme (Stream Two)
3 National Labour Content Policy
  • Consult with industry and refer to international best-practice to develop policy
  • Establish minimum requirements for accredited training and/or employment of Timorese people in new major projects
4 Training Facilities and People
  • Invest in capacity building of people and institutions throughout Timor-Leste
  • Establish an Oil and Gas Training Centre and other training facilities and infrastructure across the country
  • Establish Centres for Employment and Vocational Guidance in each district
  • Develop the skills and capacities of qualified and professional trainers
  • Develop curricula relevant to industry and student needs
5 Technical and Vocational Education and Training Plan
  • Involve the people of Timor-Leste, the community and business leaders, and local and national government in developing the TVET plan
  • Provide a framework and set out actions to implement a modern, fair and accessible training system

Table 1: Key TVET Objectives of SDP


The ‘Technical and Vocational Education and Training Plan 2011-2030’ (TVET Plan)6 is based on the Sector-wide Approach (SWAp).6(p17) Its implementation is a collaborative effort, between the Government of Timor-Leste (GOTL), community, industry and development partners. It prioritises14(p3):

  • Development of national training standards for major occupations based on industry requirements;
  • Creation of a national training package that offers vocational training opportunities for up to 50% of people aged 16-18;
  • Investment in training facilities across the country;
  • Creation of a national council for skills, employment, and productivity by bringing together industry partners, governments, and other stakeholders;
  • Development of funding mechanisms for vocational providers;
  • Promotion of specific training programs based on labor market demands, and
  • Establishment of close partnerships with employers to expand workplace training programs

The TVET Plan offers over 60 recommendations for seven essential elements. Some of the key ones are presented in Table 2.6(p70)


Efficient investment in Training

  • Secure long-term allocations from the Human Capital Development Fund (FDCH);
  • Establish a managed-competitive training market; and
  • Establish new funding guidelines and performance measures


National, District and Industry Needs and Demands

  • Identify national priorities;
  • Undertake analysis of other major development projects and district and industry needs;
  • Introduce a labour market information system; and
  • Create an environment to encourage small enterprise development and innovation.


Participation in Training

  • Promote the new TVET system;
  • Promote participation equity;
  • Implement the National Training Commitment; and,
  • Investigate the most appropriate model for formal traineeships.


Building the Capacity of Trainers

  • Develop detailed national teaching and learning materials;
  • Establish a team of officers to provide training support services;
  • Build the capacity of trainers;
  • Ensure that Government has the staffing numbers to make the system work; and
  • Build the capacity of community-based training providers.


Business Engagement in Developing Skills

  • Pilot the establishment of an Industry Skills Development Centre;
  • Build key strategic infrastructure;
  • Introduce incentives for business investment in skills development and jobs; and,
  • Implement a National Labour Content Policy.


National Partnerships and Institutions

  • Form a new national partnership on training, employment and productivity;
  • Ensure the aims and operations of education, TVET and other branches of government, including Health, are in harmony; and,
  • Remove any inconsistencies between TVET laws and other training related laws.


Governance and Monitoring of Training

  • Make the system work in relation to ensuring effective compliance with contracts;
  • Allocate adequate staffing and resources and monitoring; and
  • Implement 10 key performance measures and the appropriate resourcing to conduct evaluation of the training system on an annual basis.

Table 2: Key recommendations of TVET Plan

In order to meet the short-term skills needs, the TVET Plan proposes, a) capacity building of the current labour force to fill immediate gaps by establishing ‘Specialist Training Centres’, and b) establishing Polytechnics in the mid to long term to train specialist skills at certificate levels five and above6(p109) (fig. 4).

Figure 4: Process for meeting short-term skills needs and moving towards Polytechnics6(p109)
Figure 4: Process for meeting short-term skills needs and moving towards Polytechnics6(p109)

As mentioned, the TVET Plan also takes into consideration the following key policy documents:

National Employment Strategy 2017-2030 (NES)4

The NES is a part of the broader strategy for human resource development and affects the policies and strategies for education, health and nutrition. TVET is a strategic area in the NES, as its ultimate goal – ‘creation of quality jobs and decent work’, directly depends on the work-readiness of students joining the workforce.

One of the pillars of the NES is ‘improve labour market supply’.63 The overall strategy to achieve this is through:

  • continued implementation of the TVET Plan;
  • stronger links between the Ministry of Education and SEPFOPE; and
  • continued strengthening of training centres and higher education, improving the social protection system and inclusiveness of vulnerable groups, and promoting gender equality.

Some of the key strategies and actions relevant to training are6(p31):

  • Encourage entrepreneurship and business skills to enable the private sector to grow and employ more people;
  • Maximise the impact of public spending by imposing conditions on public contracts that stipulate quotas for Timorese workers and accredited training;
  • Up-skilling of existing agribusiness workers to increase productivity;
  • Reduce the mismatch between training supply and training demand, including undertaking skills gap analysis and especially of the skills required to implement the SDP;
  • Use the Employment and Vocation Training Fund (FEFOP) to provide training for vulnerable groups of workers (young people, unemployed, women, single mothers and disabled);
  • Involve business in all aspects of training, from planning though to evaluation –including involvement in on-the-job training;
  • The effective use of all human capital underpinned by gender equity;
  • Enhancing the capacity of SEPFOPE to undertake ongoing labour force surveys and labour market analysis;
  • Enhancing the function of Centers for Employment and Professional Guidance (CEOPs) to enable strategic and professional counselling and information sharing service; and
  • Developing the nation’s labour framework to support and/or implement: an ongoing tri-partite dialogue; dispute resolution and arbitration; worker’s rights; international conventions; labour inspectors; and occupational safety and health standards.

National Education Strategic Plan 2011-2030 (NESP)12

The NESP prioritises a) universal completion of basic education by 2030, b) elimination of illiteracy by 2015, and c) gender parity by 2015.

One of its goals is to have 60% of secondary school age population enrol in secondary technical schools.6(p30) It proposes the following action plan:

  • creating secondary technical schools that are ‘centres of technical excellence’ in a number of regions with courses in economics, agriculture, engineering, tourism and hospitality;
  • developing new curriculum for secondary technical schools based on market needs in agriculture, engineering, business management and tourism;
  • increasing teacher training through the National Education Training Institute;
  • adoption of the National Qualifications Framework for higher education;
  • developing ‘formal links with industry and the marketplace’ to give students at secondary technical schools direct experience of the workplace; and
  • establishment of polytechnics to ‘offer technical higher education that is specific to Timor-Leste’s development needs’.

Three key agencies are responsible for Technical and Vocational Education in Timor-Leste:

  • Ministry of Education (MoE) - for technical secondary schools;
  • Secretariat of State for Vocational Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE) and its TVET regulatory body i.e. the National Institute for Labour Force Development (INDMO) - for post-secondary TVET; and
  • National Agency for Academic Assessment and Accreditation (ANAAA) - for private institutions delivering higher education15(p22)

Roles/functions of key TVET-specific agencies under the MoE and SEPFOPE are summarised in Table 3.

Ministry of Education (MoE)

Responsible for Technical and Vocational Education at secondary level, the MoE specifically oversees all Technical Secondary Schools through a dedicated division. Its mission is to design, implement, coordinate and evaluate educational policies for the development of technical education. All schools (public and private) fall under its jurisdiction and are required to share data on enrolments, spending, graduation statistics etc. on a regular basis. The MoE takes decisions on funding and other support based on such data.10(p25) It monitors training delivered at post-secondary level.10(p15)

Key TVET-specific National Directorates of the MoE12(p6)

National Directorate for Vocational Training20(p9)

  • Drafts national policies and defines priorities regarding the professional training of the Ministry’s staff, including initial, continuing and in-service, teaching and non-teaching staff at education institutions
  • Designs and assesses training programmes to determine their adequacy, as well as the performance of trainees
  • Establishes, updates and managea the training framework for non-teaching staff under the Ministry in coordination with the regional directorates and the competent central services
  • Signs cooperation agreements in the field of vocational training with private, public and foreign entities

National Directorate for Secondary Technical-Vocational Education (Direção Nacional do Ensino Secundário Técnico-Vocacional) (DNESTV)

  • Implements MoE’s educational policies particularly for technical-vocational secondary schools through their accreditation, licensing and evaluation
  • Oversees quality, administration and management of such schools
  • Supports the MoE in the development of annual strategic proposals, plans, budgets, curricula and the like

National Directorate for Higher Technical Education(DNEST)20(p10)

  • Coordinates and executes policies related to public, private and cooperative technical and higher education of higher education institutions, as well as the training of their staff
  • Defines organisational framework for technical and higher education
  • Secures and provides guidance to vocational training modalities
  • Supports newly graduated students and trainees when entering the labour market
  • Oversees the proceedings regarding the accreditation of private and cooperative higher education and professional training institutions
  • Oversees the proceedings regarding academic recognition of diplomas and equivalences between technical and higher education qualifications
  • Provides technical, logistical and infrastructural support to institutes

National Directorate for Recurrent Education19 (Direcção Nacional de Ensino Recorrente) (DNER)

  • Deals with non-formal education, particularly to advance ‘Education for All’ by promoting the right to education for out-of-school children and youths
  • Works closely with municipalities, local administration and community-based organisations
  • Operationalises MoEs plans such as establishing training and learning centres; new centres opened in seven districts1(p75)

Key Decentralised Services of the MoE12(p7)

National Agency for Academic Accreditation and Assessment (Agência Nacional para a Avaliação e Acreditação Academica)(ANAAA)

  • Holds the administrative, technical and scientific autonomy to regulate academic standards in post-secondary education21
  • Accredits higher educational establishments for quality assurance10(p15)
  • Responsible for qualifications undertaken at universities and levels five to ten of TLNQF offered by proposed polytechnics6(p44)
  • Monitors the progress and development of post-secondary institutions by reviewing their annual data reports; analyses proposals to establish new post-secondary institutes based on progress10(p25)

National Institute for Training of Teachers and Education Professionals (INFORDEPE)12

  • Holds the administrative and scientific autonomy to improve the quality of teaching, develop teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as promote relevant areas of vocational training28
  • Offers accredited pre-service qualifications such as degrees in education and in-service training programmes such as continuous subject-specific training for implementation of revised curricula12(p82) for teachers’ professional development
  • Provides in-school support through capacity-building programmes on management, administration and budgeting for school directors and administrators
  • Furnishes data on qualified teachers and staffing to ensure that an adequate number of teachers with required competences are supplied12(p95)

Other Key Government Institutions

Secretariat of State for Vocational Training and Employment Policy (Secretária de Estado para a Política de Formação Profissional e Emprego) (SEPFOPE)

SEPFOPE is the main agency responsible for professional training in the country and oversees post-secondary TVET. Its mission is to design, implement, coordinate and evaluate the policy defined and approved by the Council of Ministers for vocational training and employment.10(p15) SEPFOPE oversees both, non-formal and formal vocational training, for levels one to four of the TLNQF.13(p2) It is also the registration authority for all certfied government training agencies, institutes and academies.16(p11) In order to build a strong TVET system, it collaborates with national and international agencies to carry out special studies [Timor-Leste Labor Force Survey 2010; Technical Vocational Education & Training –Impact Assessment Report (2008)10(p25)].

Over the years, SEPFOPE has assumed increased functional capacity and responsibilities by establishing various Directorates and other TVET-related units16(p11) that support it at the implementation level17(p2) such as the National Directorate for Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DNPMA), National Directorate of Employment Policy (DNAPE), along with the ones mentioned below.

Key TVET-specific Agencies of the SEPFOPE22(p11)

National Labour Force Development Institute (Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento de Mão de Obra) (INDMO)

INDMO, an autonomous statutory authority under the SEPFOPE, was established in 2008 under Decree-Law No. 8/2008. Representatives of the Government, private sector, labor organisations and training providers are a part of its Executive Commission.6(p43) It is the sole Qualification Accreditation authority for government training agencies, and institutes and academies certified by ANAAA.16(p11) The INDMO:

  • Develops and regulates vocational Quality Assurance standards
  • Approves and endorses competency skills standards and issues national qualifications16(p11)
  • Registers and accredits (certifies) training providers delivering training at levels one to four of the TLNQF including foundation level certificates6(p43)
  • Supervises the delivery of national qualifications by accredited training providers6(p44)
  • Sets up accreditation procedures along with the TLNQF16(p11)
  • Reviews data reported by registered and accredited training providers to make decisions regarding renewal of accreditation and funding10(p25)
  • Facilitates learning and assessment resource development
  • Fosters links with the industry by establishing industry ‘Sub-Commissions’ [six such commissions established representing; Construction; Administration and Finance; Education, Training and Assessment; Tourism and Hospitality; Agriculture; and Automotive6(p44)]
  • Certifies graduates

National Directorate for Vocational Training Policy (Direcção Nacional para Formação Profissional) (DNAFOP)

  • Facilitates capacity building for trainers
  • Facilitates work experience programmes for graduates
  • Provides funding support for training providers
  • Fosters social inclusion of people with disabilities, women etc.22(p38)
  • Monitors the implementation of training

National Directorate of Labour Market Information (DNIMT)

  • Tracks labour market situation in the country and manages a database containing training and other support services provided by the SEPFOPE16(p11)

 Table 3: Key TVET line Ministries and Agencies and respective functions

Note: MoE’s General Directorates, National Directorates, Decentralised Services and other educational Government Institutions are listed out in the NESP12(p6-7) along with their respective roles and responsibilties under the logical framework and programme implementation matrices for all thirteen Priority Programmes (PP).

Working Mechanism

The SABER-WfD study10 highlights the need for better coordination between TVET line ministries, agencies and other stakeholders for the real implementation of TVET strategic plans.10(p3) Although the MoE, SEPFOPE, INDMO and ANAAA have specific roles, the working mechanism is not completely institutionalised and limited to only a few areas.10(p14) Some of the major initiatives too have no concrete guidelines for implementation and coordination.10(p14)
This is specially crucial since various other ministries, state secretariats and public institutions are now establishing training centres in rural areas; for instance, the ‘Ministry of Health’ trains local community health staff through its Integrated Community Health Service and ‘The Banco Central de Timor-Leste’ and the central bank trains young people via its financial inclusion programme.1(p75) Such initiatives, although positive, are fragmented efforts that need to be paired together.
Efforts have been made to address this issue. Creation of an Inter-Ministerial Working Group with clearly defined responsibilties to work on skills and training issues was proposed10(p9) for the smooth implementation of Workforce Development (WfD) initiatives.
With a common focus on training and employment, SEPFOPE, in particular, capitalises on its strong linkages with INDMO and its directorates responsible for training, employment and career guidance, labour market information an funding for training provision. Each of these are an intrinsic part ofits working mechanism and contribute by providing relevant inputs on the industry, skills in demand, employment trends and more for the INDMO to develop relevant quality standards (fig. 5).17(p4

Figure 5:Integrated employment and training system approach17(p4)
Figure 5:Integrated employment and training system approach17(p4)



Budget Allocation for Education

The Ministry of Education (MoE) is assigned a budgetby the Ministry of Finance(MoF). The MoF allocates budgets upon reviewing MoE’s annual plans in conjunction with those of other Ministries and agencies, national priority areas and strategic plans.2(p31)

Budget allocation towards education (inclusive of general and technical) has increased significantly in the last decade. Although, latest data are not available, the budget of $135M in 2016/1723(p34) marked almost a four-fold increase from a mere $35M in 2006/0710(p15). It should however be noted that 2016/17 witnessed a lower budget as compared to the highest figures of $171M in 2014 (11.4% of total annual state budget). As a part of its ‘main policy directions to drive progress in youth well-being and tap into the demographic dividend’,10(p33) the UNDP NHDR (2018) recommends the GoTL to ‘build a knowledge-based society by enhancing youth education and human capital development’,10(p33) by allocating ‘25% of the total annual state budget to education and training’.23(p34)

TVET Funding

TVET funding is provided through the Human Capital Development Fund (FDCH). The FDCH aims to develop skilled human resources in a sustained manner by financing training programmes for the professional development of teachers, scholarships for Timorese students to study abroad and more.10(p15)

Since its establishment in 2011, the FDCH’s budget was part of Ministry of Education; as the Technical Secretariat responsible for scholarship. However, since 2015 onwards, it has been presided solely by the Ministry of Planning, Investment and Strategic (MPIE); responsible for proposing and developing the human capacity building policy (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018) [see its 5 year (2011-2015) report].57

The fund is managed by an ‘Administration Council’, which includes the ‘Prime Minister; Ministers for Education, Justice and Finance, the Secretary of State for Natural Resources; and other government representatives from institutions that receive funds from the FDCH’.24(p3)

The FDCH allocates funds to all TVET line ministries as well as SEPFOPE. The starting annual budget of the FDCH was $25M in 2011, which rose to $45M each subsequent year and totalled $175M over the five-year period in 2015.10(p15) Out of the $25M in 2011, it allocated $2.6M (10.4%) to SEPFOPE.24(p3)

Funding for training providers is decided by the SEPFOPE. TVET implementing agencies or training providers (existing and new) are required to submit their financial proposals for training to it through the DNAFOP. An independent committee at SEPFOPE assesses all such proposals. The DNAFOP manages the funding implementation at the selected training centers.

Funding for technical secondary schools is decided by the MoE. Decisions are mostly based on enrolments and funds are allocated from the state budget.15(p23)Schools can apply for more funding and partnerships with foreign institutions, however, the ultimate power rests with the MoE.10(p16)

Furthermore, the GoTL has also created funds to address specific needs. Employment and Vocational Training Fund (FEFOP), for instance, finances labour-intensive works in rural areas such as Active Labor Market Programmes (ALMPs) to promote hiring of Timorese workforce10(p16,19) and capacity-building initiatives of the Centers for Employment and Professional Guidance (CEOPs) to offer career guidance to the youth and help them in identifying training and self-employment opportunities.10(p17)

Other Support

In regard to administrative and financial assistance, the GoTL is supported by various bilateral development partners. TVET is one of the priority areas for Australia in particluar, which is Timor-Leste's largest bilateral development partner; Timor-Leste on the other hand is Australia’s fifth largest bilateral development cooperation programme.18(p3)

Apart from this, international developmental agencies such as the ILO and ADB also assist the GoTL through technical, financial and operational support. As part of a joint initiative, the ILO has previously provided technical assistance to SEPFOPE and National Statistics Directorate under the Ministry of Finance assessments to conduct the ‘Timor-Leste Labor Force Survey 2010’, and the ADB and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have assisted with the ‘Business Activity Survey’ (BAS).10(p13)


National Education System

According to the Decree-Law No. 14/2008 concerning the Education Framework, Ministry of Education (MoE) is responsible for developing and implementing education policy at all levels of formal education, as well as for providing infrastructure and ensuring teaching at public schools. It oversees the entire financial and management aspect of the education system, which promotes basic education for all.

Timor-Leste’s formal education system consists of the following levels (Table 4) (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018):

  • ‘Basic Education’constitutes primary and pre-secondary schooling, which is compulsory and free for all at public schools; meanwhile private school fees range between US$5-US$10 per month. Still other costs are associated with sending a child to school that particularly relate to books, uniforms etc.
  • ‘Secondary Education’ consists of general high schools and technical high schools; and
  • ‘Post-secondary Education’ refers to tertiary or higher education. This is divided into two streams:
    • University Education, which includes baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degree courses as well as postgraduate diplomas
    • Technical Higher Education, which includes short-term courses (1-2 years) in specialized and technological areas that are provided by polytechnics and several training institutes

Level of Education

Students’ Age in Years

Level 1: Basic School Clustered (Grades 1-9; Age: 6-14) - Mandatory



Primary School (Grades 1-6)


Pre-Secondary (Grades 7-9)


Level 2: Secondary school (10-12) - Non-mandatory





Level 3: Tertiary or Higher Education - Non-mandatory




18 and over

 Table 4: Education Level and corresponding average age of students

Figure 6: National QualificationFramework of Timor-Leste Note - Diploma I and above are equivalent to Level V- Level X in Vocational Education Pathways (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018).
Figure 6: National QualificationFramework of Timor-Leste Note - Diploma I and above are equivalent to Level V- Level X in Vocational Education Pathways (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018).

TVET System

Non-formal vocational training sector continues to play a valuable and varied role particularly in providing practical skills and literacy and numeracy learning for out-of-school youth and marginalized groups. Given the important role played by this sector, a new formal and regulated TVET system that works in conjunction with the non-formal sector has been established.17(p1)

While formal TVET is the driver of the new system, transformation from non-formal to formal sector is aided by preparatory and substitutionary education delivered by non-formal and informal training agents.

The new TVET system:

  • fosters a market-oriented specification of standards and competency-based training and assessment, together with industry sub-commissions, which advise on competency standards and qualifications14(p2);
  • allows for those already in employment to upgrade their skills and receive national skills recognition17(p2);and
  • provides minimum standards for all training providers in Timor-Leste whether they are civil society, Government, Church, or private enterprise based, to deliver quality training.17(p2)
Formal TVET System

Formal TVET education can begin after nine years of basic schooling.10(p19) A two-layered formal system is in place in which technical education is offered at secondary, post-secondary and higher education levels.

TVET at secondary level

TVET at secondary level is provided by ‘Technical Secondary Schools’. The main objective of these schools (under the auspices of MoE), is to equip students with technical skills to help them gain early entry into the labour market, while still enabling their access to higher education.34Entry into Technical Secondary Schools is subject to successful completion of Junior High School. However, high school drop-outs are still eligible for Foundation Courses (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018). These schools offer courses in specific technical areas, such as agriculture (Technical School for Agriculture) and construction (Technical School for Construction).The TLNQF does not cover qualifications issued by secondary schools (both general as well as technical).6(p44) These qualifications are issued under the Base Education Law 14/2008.6(p44)

Secondary education is skewed towards General Secondary Education with only 14% of the total number of students opting for STVE in 2016.34 Not all municipalities have these schools (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018);Dili and Baucau, the two largest cities of Timor-Leste, house seven and five schools respectively.342016 school year recorded 7,938 students and 771 teachers in the 32 private and public STVE schools.34

With most students lacking basic literacy, numeracy and soft skills, the quality of secondary education and graduates is viewed as substandard and is major a concern for employers.14(p2)

TVET at post-secondary and higher levels

TVET at post-secondary and higher levelsfollows competency-based accredited training and quality assurance procedures based on the Timor-Leste National Qualifications Framework (TLNQF).14(p2) TLNQF enlists all post-secondary school qualifications under a single framework6(p43)(see fig. 6). It establishes ten levels of qualifications. While levels one to four (including foundation certificates) fall under INDMO’s mandate, levels five to ten including qualifications undertaken at universities are under the regulation of the ANAAA.6(p43-44)

Pathways and Eligibility

Under the formal system, successful completion of secondary studies or High School allows students to pursue tertiary and higher studies (technical as well as general).

High School graduates who wish to pursue vocational education pathways, can only be eligible for level I and Level II entry; they cannot gain direct entry to Level III or above under the vocational streams. Furthermore, in order to be certified for certificates levels, Diploma I and above, graduates have to be assessed by Vocational Education system policy called Recognised Prior Learning (RPL). Graduates cannot receive certificates instantly. Experienced workers lacking prior qualifications can gain entry into Certificate Level III & IV in specific qualification areas, if they possess extensive field experience in their areas (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018).

In general, each training provider sets its own recruitment and selection process, which is usually determined by the type of course and the location of the training center.13(p2)

Training Providers

Public as well as private technical and vocational training institutions including Polytechnics offer courses under the TLNQF. Over 100 private training providers14(p2) comprising donor, church, civil society, community-based and non-government organisations17(p2) exist today and are spread across the country. However, only very few have the capacity and the ability to deliver training programmes effectively, and thus do not meet the requirements of accreditation.

By December 2017, 25 training providers have already been accredited to deliver 107 different courses. Meanwhile, 37 training providers have been registered and established successfully with INDMO Registration Standards. In addition, 23 training providers’ applications are under review to be established as registered providers (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018).

Accredited and registered post-secondary institutions under the ANAAA and INDMO are required to submit data to the respective agencies, which are used for decision-making purposes on renewal of accreditations, re-sanction of public funding and more.10(p25)

Key training centres are35:

  • Tibar Training Centre (est. 2002): empowers young people to rebuild Timor-Leste; became public training institute under decree law in 2007; offers courses in construction, hospitality and agriculture; 3,300 students have been trained so far35(p7)
  • The National Industrial Training Service in Becora (SENAI-Becora) (est. 2002): became nation’s second public training institute in 2014; offers a wide range of courses including construction, baking and tailoring35(p13)
  • The Dili Institute of Technology (DIT) (est. 2005): offers civil construction training to youths and veterans; one of the nation’s five accredited construction training providers35(p10)
  • Don Bosco-Comoro Training Centre (est. 1991): provides skills development opportunities to disengaged and unemployed youth; offers courses in administration, construction and Timor-Leste’s only accredited automotive training in light vehicles35(p4)
  • Claret Training Centre in Salele (CTC-Salele), Cova Lima (est. 2005): provides skills development to youth without access to formal education35(p1)

Almost all municipalities have vocational training providers. Polytechnic, however, is located in the capital. Recently, GoTL launched the ‘Polytechnic Institute of Betano’ in Betano, Viqueque; its primary focus is Construction. Establishment of two more polytechnics viz. ‘Polytechnic Institute for Hospitality and Tourism’ in Lospalos and ‘Academy for Fisheries and Marine Studies’ in Manatuto, is in the pipeline.29

With respect to traineeships/apprenticeships, presently training providers find work placements lasting a few days or weeks for their graduates. However, a more formal system needs to be established.6(p98)

Courses and Curricula

With the recent decline in oil production,30 the GOTL is working towards diversifying the economy.32 It has identified commercial forestry, fisheries, mining33 and construction as significant potential areas of expansion. Tourism in particular has been nominated as a priority sector in the SDP; the minimum target is to increase visitors from the current 55,000/year to 200,000/year by the year 2030.32 Apart from this, agriculture, mostly subsistence farming, continues to be the main livelihood activity for 70% of Timorese,31,2(p4) and is therefore regarded as the only field worthy of study particularly in rural areas.1(p77)

TVET education must create a workforce that is skilled in jobs-in-demand and training must be geared towards benefitting these professions.

Current formal TVET courses are designed to impart job-specific skills in specialized areas. According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS, 2010), formal training was sought mainly for office or white collar jobs, with 49% ‘clerical’ staff, 47% of ‘professionals’ and 43% of ‘managers’ having gained skills via formal courses.6(p42) In general, TVET is focused on the following six training areas1(p91): (i) administration and finance, (ii) construction, (iii) tourism and hospitality, (iv) education, training and assessment, (v) agriculture and (vi) automotive mechanics. Gender segregation is seen in course selection. Most women opt for ‘female skill areas’ such as adminisration, finance, and toursim and hospitality15(p28) as opposed to technical trades such as carpentry, masonry, mechanics etc.

In addition to this, formal Foundation Courses have been introduced for school drop-outs, out-of-school-youth, marginalised and vulnerable groupsto obtain an entry level certificate.26,13(p3) These courses act as gateways to higher level vocational training26 by offering a combinaton of soft skills, life skills and basic functional skills specific to certain industry areas such as construction, automotive, agriculture, administration and finance, or tourism.17(p2) The timing and delivery of particular Foundation courses is also tailored to meet the specific needs of female participants to create a gender inclusive environment.17(p2)

In order to create a formal entry into employment, more emphasis needs to be placed upon the practical aspects of courses and training delivery. The National Training Commitment, through its two streams viz. the ‘National Training Ticket’ and the ‘National Traineeship Programme’, proposes inclusion of workshop training (in conjunction with classroom training), paid/unpaid work experience and on-the-job training for students.7(p30)

Non-Formal & Informal TVET System

Despite continued efforts to formalise TVET, a sizeable segment of the marginalised population and a high number of young people still remain unemployed and outside the formal education system. One of the contributory factors is the lack of quality education14(p3) that worsens especially when the official language of instruction changes from Tetum to Portuguese in the later years of basic education10(p7) leading to high drop-out rates. [According to LFS (2010), only 37% of respondents were literate in Portuguese as compared to 96% in Tetum10(p7)]. Another important factor is the existence of a rural-urban divide in access to education23(p36) with rural areas faring poorly,25 compounded by the gender divide27(p4),23(p35) that expects women to assume traditional household roles [about 58% of women aged 25 years and above have never been to school (versus 43% of men), and only 52% of women aged 15 years and older are literate (versus 63% of men)15(p28)].

Non-formal and informal vocational training continue to play a valuable and distinct role in addressing these issues. A high reliance is still placed on community-based systems in delivering livelihoods skills, small business and entrepreneurship training, and important social and community development programmes.17(p1)

Figure 7:Type of training received by those employed 15 or older (%)10(p7)
Figure 7:Type of training received by those employed 15 or older (%)10(p7)

A considerable proportion of Timorese rely on self, family or friends to acquire skills.10(p7) According to the LFS (2010), almost half of those employed (47.7%) were self-taught as compared to only 13.6% who had pursued a  vocational training program10(p7) (fig. 7). Family and relatives play an important role in skill-acquistion; certain occupations such as ‘craft and related trades’ in particular are learnt from them.6(p41)

While on the one hand, foundation courses are helping in transitioning into the formal TVET system, on the other hand, non-formal and informal training too is working towards bringing the academically and socio-economically disadvantaged population back into the education and workforce system.

Several international as well as local organisations have been providing non-formal preparatory and informal education via onshore and distance-learning modes. Programmes range from 21st Century transferrable skills like ICT that appeal to various groups of learners to specialised training courses like public administration targeted at specific groups like civil servants.1(p92)

A few notable initiatives are, a) ‘Science of Life Systems’, a self-funded social enterprise that work towards 16-25 year olds’ employability and further education; it offers two-year full time courses (with part-time option for all ages) on English, computer literacy, personality development and more including provision of boarding facility at 47 centres covering all districts1(p75); b) ‘InfoTimor’, a not-for-profit social enterprise, which focuses on advancing ICTs within Timor-Leste’s economy and fostering partnerships with Dili Institute of Technology, Infoxchange Australia, and GoTL to expand education and employment opportunites for young people1(p98); and c) ‘Empreza Diakis’, a Timorese NGO that engages in capacity-building for entrepreneurship and assists innovative businesses by promoting local products, supporting vulnerable women, and collaborating with public/private organisations and business partners.1(p98)

Moreover, National Directorate for Recurrent Education (DNER) under the auspices of MoE is supporting the illiterate section of society to achieve high school equivalence by means of substitutionary non-formal education. It has opened ‘community learning centres’ in eight districts to equip people with skills that are in demand at local level; the centres are managed by local committees and funded by the MoE.1(p76)

National Qualifications Framework

The Timor-Leste National Qualifications Framework (TLNQF) was created in August 2011 (Decree-Law of the Government No. 36/2011). It enlists all post-secondary school qualifications under a single framework6(p43) (see fig. 6 - above section). These qualifications are responsive to the needs of the industry, international quality standards, and employment prospects of Timorese people.17(p1) ‘Access and equity; quality; proficiency; and relevance’ are the guiding principles of this system.17(p1)

The distinguishing feature of the TLNQF is that it gives due importance to a still largely non-formal vocational training sector and practical skills gained outside the formal system. It continues to support a very robust community based non-formal vocational training system that delivers livelihoods skills, small business and entrepreneurship training, and important social and community development programmes for youth and marginalised groups particularly in the rural and remote areas.17(p1)

The TLNQF establishes ten levels of qualifications at the post-secondary level. While levels one to four (including foundation certificates) fall under INDMO’s mandate, levels five to ten including qualifications undertaken at universities are under the regulation of the ANAAA.6(p43-44)

Twenty two national qualifications and five national certificates,1(p91),17(p3) have been developed, approved and registered on the national database with national codes and include over 200 units of competency [comprehensive list17(p3-4)]. The national qualifications cover various industry areas and focus on ‘six key training areas: administration and finance, construction, tourism and hospitality, education, training and assessment, and agriculture and automotive mechanics’.1(p91) While it is a promising initiative, it should be noted that ‘less than 25% of total post-secondary TVET training providers are covered under the system’.15(p23) This creates the need to expand the ‘system’s capacity to include all  post-secondary TVET training institutes’.15(p23)

Furthermore, the TLNQF does not cover qualifications issued by secondary schools, both General as well as Technical Secondary Schools.6(p44) These qualifications are issued under the Base Education Law 14/2008.6(p44) The SABER-WfD study10 highlights the potential risks due to this exclusion. It points out the issue of duality due to the existence of two parallel vocational systems - one at the level of Technical Secondary Schools and the other at the post-secondary level. It recommends that the INDMO includes and integrates qualifications of Technical Secondary Schools into its quality control systems to avoid duplication and for a seamless transition into post-secondary studies.2(p10)

Efforts have been made to improve the framework through:17(p5)

  • creation of Industry Sub-Commissions (ISCs)to establish an industry-driven TVET System; fifteen ISCs were envisioned by 2017, however, nine were established by December 2017 (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018);
  • development of more qualifications spread across industry sectors in a continual manner (a minimum of twenty qualifications were proposed to be developed per year by 2017); and
  • inclusion of Tetum/Portuguese language and numeracy proficiency standards under qualifications at all levels(to address the language and numeracy proficiency deficit in the current and emerging generation of young people coming into the training system).
Quality Assurance & Standards

The SDP prioritises the implementation of a strong quality assurance regulatory system through7(p25):

  • the registration of all national qualifications into the National Qualifications Framework; and
  • the continuing development of the national quality assurance bodies

According tothe TVET Plan, ‘the TLNQF standards and related laws require training providers to be accredited to deliver national qualifications and to demonstrate that they comply with standards for buildings and equipment, staffing qualifications, assessment and certification of student skills, records administration and organisational management’.6(p127)

Consequently, in consultation with the MoE and the SEPFOPE,16(p11) the INDMO set up an accreditation procedure for quality assurance,as well as published guidelines outlining all the competency standards of accreditation along with the ANAAA.10(p18) Over the years, the Industry Sub-Commissions (ISCs), which includeindustry representatives from relevant sectors and training providers have also been involved in defining competency standards.10(p17)

At present, the INDMO and the ANAAA10(p18),16(p11) are the two authorised agencies that have the power to:

  • determine competency standards and criteria for quality assurance;
  • register and issue national qualifications under the TLNQF16; and
  • accredit vocational training providers including government training agencies, institutes and academies. [Currently, an internal discrete committee at the INDMO accredits training providers; however, inclusion of important external stakeholders is in the pipeline (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018)]

The responsibility for quality assurance for all ten levels of qualifications is clearly divided between them10(p15):

  • INDMO: levels one to four including foundation certificates
  • ANAAA: levels five to ten in all post-secondary education

Accreditation is mandatory for providers that want to receive government funding and offer national certificates. It is valid for five years, during which time the authorities perform regular checks to ensure providers’compliance with accreditation/registration standards. Furthermore, both agencies have the power to punish training providers in case they breach compliance standards or if students and employers lodge a complaint against them.10(p18)

Although efforts are being made to establish a strong quality assurance system, there are some issues that warrant timely addressal. There is an oversupply of training providers with only very few having the capacity and the ability to deliver training programmes effectively13(p3); the system does apply to Technical Secondary Schools10(p20); it is not mandatory to have a certificate to engage in an occupation, not all relevant occupations have defined standards, and a relatively few training centres have been accredited.10(18)

In response to the prevalent issues, the GoTL has taken some positive steps. ‘Minimum standards’ have been defined to include existing training providers comprising private, public, church and community-based organisations, and capacity-building efforts are underway.17(p2) Another significant measure is the requirement for local staff to have certified skilled workforce during the bidding for public works.10(p18)


Although no recent data are available, SEPFOPE (in partnership with relevant agencies) has, in the past, conducted studies to gauge graduates’ quality, skill levels and job prospects. The Labour Market Information Department38 has also been involved in a few of these studies along with being responsible for developing Graduate Destination Surveys.39(p29) Employers, training providers and youth (graduates as well as non-graduates), who constitute the primary target group, have been equally involved as research participants. Most prominent studies are:

  • Employment of MLSTP Graduates Study (2016)36
  • Youth Training and Employment Perception Study (2014)37
  • Enterprise and Skills Survey (ESS)(2014)38
  • Technical Vocational Education & Training - Impact Assessment Report (2008)10(p22)

The main objective of technical and vocational programmes is to build a skilled workforce that ultimately finds employment. Over the last couple of years, the average employment rates of TVET graduates have remained at about 41-46%.36(p22) UNDP’s NHDR points out that contrary to the popular belief of Timorese people, graduating from a course does not ‘automatically’ translate into getting a job.1(p83) The above-mentioned studies have shown why this may be the case.

Perceptions and Attitudes of Employers

In general, employers lack confidence in the quality of graduates. There is a growing need for ‘a mix of skills’ called “employability skills” or people skills that complement technical skills roles.38(p15) Employers’ distrust of training institutions affect their hiring choices. Foreign workers and graduates are favoured over TVET graduates for employment.36(p17) It has been found that employers would rather upgrade employees’ skills in-house than rely on training centres36(p11) and hire anyone with the motivation and discipline to work than hire new graduates.1(p56) Results of the ESS, suggest that 82% of the employers preferred ‘dedicated, loyal and committed’ employees as opposed to 47% who settled for workers with just specific technical skills.36(p15)

While lack of soft skills along with job-specific skills, low literacy and numeracy skills, complacent or poor work attitudes and lack of work-readiness remain major deterrents, employers’ perception of graduates from technical and vocational schools is gradually becoming favourable.

Although first-time job seekers, who are graduates from technical and vocational schools have limited literacy and numeracy skills, they are still regarded as being the ‘most prepared for work’. According to the ESS, 94.1 percent of such job seekers had the needed job-specific skills.38(p14),1(p56) Whereas, first-time job seekers from secondary schools are considered the ‘least competent’38(p14) lacking a) ‘soft’ skills needed for work, such as discipline, creativity and initiative37(p11); b) job-specific skills and competencies e.g. IT skills38(piii); and c) life skills and work experience.1(p56) First-time job seekers from technical and vocational schools also stand a better chance of getting hired, since employers find that university graduates lack the personality and motivation to work in professional settings that is exacerbated by their very poor work attitudes.38(p14)

Employment and Hiring Practices

Despite the improvement in formal vocational education, large gaps remain in terms of the employability of young graduates in growing sectors such as construction, tourism and agro-industries.39(p17)

TVET graduates, during the ESS in 2014,38 have recommended that training providers,a) include more practical sessions and facilitate internships to prepare them for real work settings,and b) build better linkages with employers to help them gain employment upon the completion of their training programmes.36(p11) The recent MLSTP Graduates Study (2016),36 however, exposes some of the underlying behavioural and attitudinal issues of graduates that explain why they still remain unemployed. It highlights the problem of ‘intention’36(p22) in that most graduates actually do not intend to get a job. Agricultural high schools and institutions for instance, provide graduates with sound technical skills. Yet, only few become farmers and many aspire to study agricultural science at university; job prospects of becoming agricultural scientists are very low.1(p77) ‘Passiveness’ is another problem, in that graduates do not take control or actively look for employment, which is further aggravated by their poor understanding of the effort required in job-seeking.36(p14)

Apart from this, most employers prioritise skills gained on-the-job and previous work experience over training centre graduates.36(p14) A large number hire local unskilled workers on the request of village chiefs36(p14) along with many who also considertheir workers’ recommendations.36(p11) Moreover, the underdeveloped state of private-sector and limited availability of jobs, particularly permanent positions36(p20) are some of the key barriers to graduates’ employability.

Hospitality, Tourism and Construction industries have higher job prospects. Graduates trained as waiters/waitresses, technical mechanics, civil engineers, restaurant chefs and construction workers have a greater chance of getting hired since skilled workers for these occupations are in demand.38(p11) Furthermore, graduates from certain training institutions, such as those from Fatu Maka Technical College and seminary school graduates, have better job prospects as these graduates are perceived to have the ‘soft skills’ that other Timorese youth lack.37(p11)

Salaries depend on occupations and roles. According to the ESS (2014), in relation to other occupations, elementary occupations offered the lowest monthly average wage of US$ 146. Clerical support workers earned US$ 163, technical and associate professionals made US$ 233, professionals received US$ 270 and senior managers were paid US$ 540 as monthly average salaries.38(piii)

Support and Promotion

In regard to achieving the target of at least 65% TVET graduates (skilled in construction and automative trades) getting hired within three months of graduation, the MLSTPpriortitised trainees ‘interested’ in securing gainful employment. It assisted the graduates, including female construction workers and mechanics, by offering soft skills training, developing positive work attitudes, and facilitating their socialisation with each other and the industry.37(p11) Moreover, a few training centres are establishing their own businesses to involve graduates in production of goods.36(p22)

Some graduates joining the workforce also receive support from employers (interestingly more small business owners as compared to large firms) who conduct‘Induction training’ for graduates.38(p15)

In addition to this, recent graduates and the GoTL, have been making efforts to build positive associations between training and employability to attract new students to join vocational and technical courses. On the one hand, the GoTL is capitalising on graduates’ work readiness by making it mandatory for bidders to present workers’ certificates while bidding for public works.10(p19) On the other hand, TVET graduates are acting as ‘influencers’ apart from parents (particularly fathers) and village chiefs in influencing youth’s decisions on future graduate study and employment.37(p11)

Personnel (Teachers)

National Directorate of Vocational Training (DNFP) is responsible for the development of the TVET sector’s training providers and for the funding of priority training programmes.39(29)

Composition of Teaching Workforce

In general, teachers should possess a Certificate III and IV in Training and Assessment6(p100) and a minimum of one level higher from the course level they are teaching (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018). Still, most teachers do not have a background in teaching and pedagogy. They teach out of need.43

It was reported in 2017 that as per the Ministry of Education, nearly 1,222 lecturers in private and public universities in Timor-Leste possessed only a Bachelor's degree, which placed them in conflict with the requirement of being at least a level higher from the course level they were teaching. This highlighted the need for higher investment in master and doctorate degrees.  The Dili Institute of Technology had 157 lecturers with master's degree and doctorates in subject areas encompassing civil engineering, mechanics, petroleum, business management, finance, tourism, and computer sciences.40

With respect to teachers at technical secondary schools, the National Directorate of Secondary Technical-Vocational Education in 2016 noted that staffing levels were adequate to cope with the number of students and classes. However, it identified the need for using more advanced technology for modernizing specialized training.34

Salaries of Teachers/Trainers/Instructors

Beginner level monthly salaries range from US$200-US$300. Qualified TVET teachers with lengthy teaching experience can earn around US$600 annually (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018).

However, low budgets and lack of training compel almost a third of teachers at senior secondary level to remain volunteers.43,42

Teachers’ Professional Development

There is no particular pre-service training center which is recognised by Government for the preparation of trainers. The selection of trainers is largely based on the current training needs assessed by vocational training providers. Often trainings are organised during in-service period where the proposal is submitted by the respective training providers. DNAFOP facilitates the training based on a national request. Under the funding of FDCH secretariat, DNAFOP selects trainers from registered and accredited training providers to participate in the capacity building programmes (A. Cabral, personal communication, June 14, 2018).

The majority of teacher training is offered by small private universities and NGOs and is of, at times, dubious quality.42(p10) In addition, training providers, from time to time, have identified severe limitations of the materials in use and approached INDMO, SEPFOPE and other training agencies for support in developing resources. Consequently, a Learning Resource Development Centre has been established at SEPFOPE that is working closely with registered training providers to produce standard teaching and learning materials that meet national qualifications, are relevant to Timor-Leste and are written in Tetum.6

Furthermore, TESP, through its partnership with INDMO, has contributed to the development of a demand-driven accredited vocational training system in Timor Leste for developing a National Quality Training System. The system consists of criteria to be met by training providers, a collaborative auditing system between INDMO and training providers seeking accreditation and funding policies linking funding to accreditation. This has led to a general improvement in the quality of providers and weeding out of less capable ones.39(p12)

With regard to foreign collaborations, countries such as Australia, Brazil and Portugal among others have been offering support to Timor Leste.

The Australian Certificate 4 in training and assessment was introduced by Victoria University, Melbourne, in Timor-Leste in 2007. Candidates prefer to apply for an advanced diploma in collaboration with Victoria University and an Indonesian University, and a Timor Leste-specific version has been developed with the assistance of Dili Institute of Technology. However, people tend to find it difficult to determine how and where to obtain teaching qualifications.1(p81)

Australia is also providing direct support to the Ministry of Education to improve teacher quality and student learning through the Professional Learning and Mentoring program, since 2016. It also supports the Alola Foundation, a Timorese non-government organisation, to deliver components of the Professional Learning and Mentoring Program, with a focus on teacher training and to provide mobile library services to schools and communities throughout Timor-Leste. Australia funds the Catholic Institute for Teacher Education to provide a recognised Bachelor of Education program to approximately 50 student teachers annually and to also deliver the Professional Learning and Mentoring Program.44

Similarly, Brazil and Portugal have supported the Timorese Ministry of Education through inter-university collaborations. The University of Aveiro, Portugal has been offering assistance on restructuring of the secondary education curriculum in Timor Leste and on teacher-training bachelor’s degree in Portuguese.41(p4) In addition, regular intensive courses particulalry PROFEP-Timor are conducted to enhance the quality of teachers.41(p3)

Private Sector Cooperation

Employment opportunities and future demand

Timor-Leste’s economy is agriculture-centric with a captive employment of 63% being generated by the agricultural sector. Private sector contributes 5% and NGO sector contributes 2% to total employment.23(p30) Overall, non-agricultural intra-country employment opportunities remain abysmally low.

Technology-driven TVET is set to lead the way for training and for connecting job opportunities with potential candidates. Already mobile phone-enabled services are being used in Timor-Leste to connect jobseekers and employers in Arab states through online job matching platforms such as SoukTel’s Job Match Programme via an easy-to-use short message system.1(p98)

In terms of future demand, computer skills, finance and accounting skills, management skills, teaching and ancilliary skills and job profiles like carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrician, catering, cooking, housekeeping, medical assistant, lab assistant, technician etc. are witnessing an upward trend. In addition, jobs in agriculture’s allied sectors and health sector are likely to witness an upward swing. Rural livelihoods and food security are priority areas for the Government of Timor-Leste. Aided by better schools and road infrastructure, improved rural livelihood options can help mitigate rural to urban migration for employment and lead to a more equitable distribution of resources.1

Promotion of TVET

The Youth Training and Employment Perception Study of 2014 suggested that TVET be promoted in all 13 districts through media such as TV and radio, newspapers, online platforms such as Facebook, career expos and Skills’ Olympics, seminars and workshops, and community platforms such as the Church and village chiefs.37(p13) Resultantly, TVET promotion campaigns are run regularly to bring positive behavioural change.

In effect, a TVET Communications Plan 2015 was developed and the ‘Formasaun Profisional’ (Vocational Training) campaign was launched. The 2015 “Professional Formation: Train People in Order to Work” campaign successfully promoted TVET to the youth through short films, radio spots, accreditation signage, comic strips, facebook posts and banners on topics such as career planning, selection of training centres and optional courses and employment tips.46(p5) Similarly, the TVET Communications Plan 2016 facilitated employment opportunities for Mid-Level Skills Training Project (MLSTP) graduates through newspaper articles, a brochure and video.47

National Skills Competitions were conducted in September 2014, October 2015 and October 2016 to foster interaction and networking between TVET students and industry representatives and to encourage female workforce participation in non-traditional sectors. These competitions invited participation of 17 accredited training centres and showcased skills such as serving three course meals and installation of a kitchen sink. SEPFOPE is presently considering sponsoring participants to compete in international skills competitions.47

Skills development at primary school

Skills development is being introduced in primary education through the introduction of a new primary school curriculum. Innovative and engaging ways to impart skills to young children are being sought; for instance, Eugenio Lemos, one of Timor-Leste’s leading singers, was consulted by the GoTL on the Art and Culture component of the curriculum.48

Community participation in skill-building

NGOs45 and non-profit social enterprises are coming forward to impart non-formal and informal vocational training. Creation of such community networks not only help build the local economy and retain local talent but also assist in implementing context-specific solutions for complex problems.

Social entrepreneurships

TVET-enabled social entrepreneurships among youth are gradually beginning to pick up pace. Besides being gainfully employed, young entrepreneurs are contributing to the well-being of their local communities.

Current Trends & Practices

Labour Market: In 2017, the labour force participation rate is 63.2%. The youth unemployment rate was 5.9% in 2016.Employment is heavily concentrated in the services sector, particularly in public administration, wholesale and retail trade and education.

Culture and Society: TVET is considered a second-best option compared to general and higher education. There is a culture of training within firms in some industries. More employers are shifting focus from academic qualifications to skills and capacities.

Promotion of TVET: TVET qualifications are being promoted more systematically. Efforts are being made to change the mindset of society about the attractiveness of TVET and moves have been made towards making TVET qualifications more relevant to the job market.10

Education and Training: The legal minimum school leaving age is 16. A total of 115,862 students were enrolled in pre-primary to tertiary education in 2015. Distribution of post-secondary (17-25 years old) students:

  • 20% A level/academic streams
  • 22%TVET (government and private)
  • 5% polytechnic
  • 52% universities

The nation has adopted measures to address emerging vocational education needs of future workers and to reduce the unemployment rate. Training opportunities are being created for secondary school and college students as well as other adult learners through public-private partnerships to offer numerous pathways for securing employment. Notable reforms and ongoing projects, which showcase the work of both the government and the non-profit sector in TVET domain, include:

Workforce Development Programme Timor-Leste - WDPTL (2014-19)22(p5)

Run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with funding of AUD 13 million, the WDPTL offers scholarship opportunities for tertiary study in Australia, access to vocational training for employment and supports Timor-Leste to raise its participation in Australia's seasonal worker programme.49 The programme has helped the Secretariat of State for Vocational Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE) develop five new nationally accredited qualifications in hospitality (certificate I, II and III levels). The WDP supports pre-departure training courses for Seasonal Worker Programme run by SEPFOPE to ensure that workers have English language and work-ready skills. The specific work-ready skills training includes English language, driving instruction and fork-lifting training. On return to Timor-Leste, the programme provides workers linkages with potential employers, financial training, and information on setting-up small businesses. As of March 2017, average annual remittances were high: AUD 10,000-15,000 for hospitality workers and AUD 5,000-10,000 for agriculture workers.18(p7)

Mid Level Skills Training Project - MLSTP (May 2012-June 2018)

The Asian Development Bank-supported ($12 million) MLSTP assists the Government of Timor-Leste ($1 million contribution) in organising mid-level skills training through SEPFOPE, in the area of construction and automotive trades to develop a skilled and employable workforce in the sector. The programme supports five training providers to deliver this project; Don Bosco-Comoro in Dili, SENAI-Becora in Dili, Tibar Training Centre in Liquiça, Dili Institute of Technology (DIT) in Baucau, and Claret training centre in Salele, Cova Lima district.53Female enrollment had gone up to 23% by 2015 and 390 students were enrolled for Certificate I-III training. As of March 2016, nearly 1,000 students had completed training in construction and automotive trades and 500 were undergoing training.52

Gender Action Plan - GAP61

The GoTL’s Gender Action Plan (GAP), as a part of the MLSTP to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, stresses on increasing women’s participation in non-traditional careers by offering skills training and counselling and reserving internships and recruitment for women in construction and automotive trades.51(p2) GAP is facilitating placements for Timor-Leste’s first female mechanics. As of 2017, six automotive graduates had found traineeship placements and more were being trialled.64

Some recently-concluded initiatives include the following:

Training and Employment Support Project - TESP (2013-2014)16

The TESP, implemented by ILO and funded by AUSAID, supported SEPFOPE and INDMO to skill people in all 13 districts for better participation in the economy through increased employability. Its objectives entailed improving TVET and policy environment, labour market information and linkages between training and private sectors and expanding access to industry-relevant competency-based qualifications. The programme built on the successes of YEPP (2008-2012).54

Youth and Employment Promotion Programme - YEPP (2008-2012)

A major youth targeted initiative, the YEPP, served as a milestone in laying the foundation of TVET in all 13 districts62 of Timor-Leste. This AusAID-funded and SEPFOPE and ILO-implemented programme led to the establishment of National Labour Force Development Institute (INDMO) and National Qualifications Framework (NQF).14(p4),7 The programme supported the national TVET plan, introduced competency-based training standards, developed training tools, established youth career services within CEOPs6(p46) and promoted entrepreneurship.14(p4),55 It created a safety net for vulnerable rural poor during critical periods through organisation of labour-intensive public works and short-term work opportunities.55 The programme conducted the Timor-Leste Labour Force Survey in collaboration with National Statistics Directorate and SEPFOPE and organised the nation’s first Career Expo in Dili, which was attended by over 5,000 students and chosen public and private enterprises. By 2012, YEPP had assisted more than 70,000 young women and men in the age group of 15-29 years.55

Basic Skills Training Project (2008-2012)

Scope Global implemented the Basic Skills Training Project funded by DFAT and South Australian Government and with cooperation from SEPFOPE and local industry. The project provided Certificate II level courses in masonry, carpentry, tiling, plastering, plumbing, electrical wiring and metal fabrication to disadvantaged youth. Trainings were organised in collaboration with the Dili Institute of Technology and Don Bosco Training centres in Dili and Bacau. Nearly 70% of the project’s 450 trainees secured employment and 15% accessed higher studies through educational pathways provided under the project.56

GoTL’s initiatives on skills’ development in primary education

In accordance with the UN goal on education, the government has taken steps toward skills’ development in primary education. In 2015, the government approved the new basic education curricula (upto year nine) formulated by a team of national and international experts. The new syllabi identified Tetum as the language of instruction so as to encourage learning of art, culture, math and science at a very early age. Portuguese was introduced from year four onwards. The upgraded curriculum includes permaculture/agroecology taught in school gardens or ‘living laboratories’ to young children, and has to be supplemented by courses in food and nutrition beginning in year four. Practical learning has been further boosted through introduction of participatory science curriculum from year five onwards.48 However, the Timor-Leste Coalition for Education (TLCE) has sounded a note of caution to the government over the lack of qualified teachers, infrastructure, learning materials and requisite equipment for teaching practical components of the new syllabi.50

Key Issues & Challenges

Various issues and challenges17(p6-7) have confronted the TVET sector in Timor-leste; some of the key recent ones are:

Limited funding

Timor-Leste is an agriculture-based economy with limited economic resources. In previous decades, only a small budgetary allocation to education resulted in a negligible spending on TVET. Although budget allocation towards education (inclusive of general and technical) has increased considerably in the last decade, it is far from enough to develop the education sector. UNDP NHDR (2018) recommends allocating ‘25% of the total annual state budget to education and training’, which is almost three times an increase given that only 8.6% of the total State budget was allocated to education in 2016/17.23(p34)

High unemployment rate

A large section of youth remains jobless (national: 11%; youth: 21.9% - LFS 2013),5 and about each of the half of those employed support three to nine dependents.23(p19) At the same time, women’s participation in the workforce is very low, with women only half as likely as men to find work. 23(p30) In 2015, 45% of the working age population was inactive.23(p30) The current education system does not fully address the issue of employability as it does not match industry requirements.

Misalignment of skills with labour market needs

While efforts to promote TVET are gradually gaining momentum, the misalignment between skills imparted and skills required by upcoming sectors, is creating job loss. Underdeveloped linkages between training institutes and industry representatives often leads to high unemployment rates among TVET graduates who struggle with the mismatch between their skills and industry requirement.1(p93)

Low infrastructure readiness for technology use

Timor-Leste does not yet have a commercial provider with the capacity to supply IT services required by universities. The country requires a robust IT infrastructure to promote ICT and online learning and move from low technology use to the fourth industrial revolution stage. Recently, the Marshall Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu have installed networks with the support of the Australian network and the European Union as a first step to help address this infrastructure gap.1(p94)

Lack of availability and access to quality training

Poor quality of TVET instructors compromises the effectiveness of TVET sector. A major concern is that of limited access to professional development opportunities that help bridge TVET instructors’ training gaps in view of skills sought by industry.1(p94) This barrier also feeds into limited progress in the area of ICT education and use due to a shortage of quality trainers adept in the use of internet and modern technologies to further TVET. In 2015, Timor-Leste stood 134th of 143 countries on the World Economic Forum’s networked readiness index.1(p90)

Shortage of qualified instructors is compounded by the shortage of accessible training centres. A dearth of standardised TVET centres in most districts, barring Dili and a select others, has led to neglect of rural areas and migration of youth to urban centres in search of jobs, leading to skewed economic development and large rural-urban divide.1(p74)

Fragmented efforts of Government

While several efforts are being made to introduce new training centres at district and sub-district levels, the exercise tends to be fragmented and weakly-coordinated. One reason is that while one ministry heads general education, another is responsible for vocational training and other ministries also are setting up their own training centres in rural areas, resulting in miscoordinated and fragmented efforts.1(p74) There is also a coordination deficit among relevant government agencies in supporting and expanding accredited training programmes. Although the government has taken steps for quality assurance such as the establishment of the National Labor Force Development Institute and competency-based training standards, these quality assurance applies only to a small number of accredited training providers and most remain unregulated. Moreover, government agencies are yet to take strong steps to link accredited training standards to curricula in technical secondary schools, for linking together the components of the broader skills development system.14(p3)

Lack of preparedness for policy implementation

While the GoTL is formulating policies at a fast pace, the capacity to implement these is severely lacking. For instance, Ministry of Education’s policy to turn numerous high schools into vocational schools has led to the establishment of schools in most municipalities at once. While such schools boast of well-designed buildings, they lack the most important basics such as qualified teachers, well-equipped labs, learning materials and the like. There is now the need to roll out policies in stages.50

Resistance to TVET as a career pathway

According to the Youth Training and Employment Perception Study, a common perception regarding TVET is that of a pathway chosen by those unable to cope with formal school education.  Another common problem associated with TVET is the highly variable quality of training centres, and mismatch between skills and industry requirements. People fail to perceive it as a viable career pathway since it is a common occurrence for even the government to prefer foreign workers to local TVET graduates for government jobs. People need to witness proof of TVET being able to move in tandem with the realities of the workplace and ensure long-term gainful employment.37(p9)

ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics
ADB Asian Development Bank
ALMPs Active Labor Market Programmes
ANAAA Agência Nacional para a Avaliação e Acreditação Academica (National Agency for Academic Assessment and Accreditation)
AusAID Australian Agency for International Development
BAS Business Activity Survey
CCI Chamber of Commerce and Industry
CEOPs Centro de Emprego e Orientação Profissional (Center for Employment and Professional Guidance)
CNEFP Centro Nacional de Emprego e Formação Profissional (National Center for Employment and Vocational Training)
CNFP Centro Nacional de Formacao Profissional (National Center for Vocational Training)
CTC-Salele Claret Training Centre in Salele
DFAT Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
DIT Dili Institute of Technology
DNAFOP Direcção Nacional para Formação Profissional (National Directorate for Vocational Training Policy)
DNAPE National Directorate of Employment Policy
DNER Direcção Nacional de Ensino Recorrente (National Directorate for Recurrent Education)
DNEST Direcção Nacional do Ensino Superior Técnico (National Directorate For Higher Technical Education)
DNESTV Direção Nacional do Ensino Secundário Técnico-Vocacional (National Directorate for Secondary Technical-Vocational Education)
DNFP            Direcção Nacional de Formação Profissional (National Directorate for Vocational Training)
DNIMT Direcção Nacional de Informação do Mercado de Trabalho (National Directorate of Labour Market Information)
DNPMA National Directorate for Planning Monitoring and Evaluation
ESS Enterprise and Skills Survey
FDCH  Fundo de Desenvolvimento do Capital Humano (Human Capital Development Fund)
FEFOP Fundo de Emprego e Formação Profissional (Employment and Vocational Training Fund)
GAP Gender Action Plan
GoTL Government of Timor-Leste
ICTs Information and Communications Technologies
ILO International Labour Organization
INDMO Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento de Mão de Obra (National Institute for Labor Force Development)
INFORDEPE Instituto Nacional de Formação de Docentes e Profissionais da Educação (National Institute for Training of Teachers and Education Professionals)
ISCs Industry Sub-Commissions
IT Information Technology
LFS Labour Force Survey
LMI Labour Market Information
LMIS Labour Market Information System
MLSTP Mid-Level Skills Training Project
MOE Ministry of Education
MOF Ministry of Finance
NES National Employment Strategy
NESP National Education Strategic Plan
NGO Non-governmental Organization
NHDR National Human Development Report 
PP Priority Programmes
PROFEP Programa de Formação de Professores do Ensino (Training Programme for Teachers)
RDTL República Democrática de Timor Leste (Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste)
RPL Recognised Prior Learning
SDP Strategic Development Plan
SDG Sustainable Development Goal
SEFOPE Secretária de Estado da Formação Profissional e Emprego (Secretariat of State for Employment and Training)
SEPFOPE Secretária de Estado para a Política de Formação Profissional e Emprego (Secretariat of State for Vocational Training Policy and Employment)
SENAI-Becora National Industrial Training Service in Becora
SWAp Sector-wide Approach
TESP Training and Employment Support Project
TLCE Timor-Leste Coalition for Education
TLNQF Timor-Leste National Qualifications Framework
TVET Technical and Vocational Education and Training
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
WDPTL Workforce Development Programme Timor-Leste
YEPP Youth and Employment Promotion Programme


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  1. Quintão, P. (2017, April 19). Vocational schools lack qualified teachers. The Dili Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.thediliweekly.com/en/news/education/14478-vocational-schools-lack-qualified-teachers [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  1. ADB (Asian Development Bank). (n.d.). Summary Poverty Reduction And Social Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/linked-documents/45139-001-tim-sprss.pdf [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  1. Timor-Leste: Mid-Level Skills Training Project (Project Data Sheet). (n.d.). ADB (Asian Development Bank). Retrieved from https://www.adb.org/projects/45139-001/main#project-pds [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  1. Project Profile. (n.d.). Mid-Level Skills Training Project. Retrieved from https://www.mlstp.net/project-profile.html [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  1. Training and Employment Support Program (TESP) (Timor-Leste). (n.d.). ILO (International Labour Organization). Retrieved from http://www.ilo.org/jakarta/whatwedo/projects/WCMS_204371/lang--en/index.htm [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  1. Youth Employment Promotion Programme (Timor-Leste) (ILO in Asia and the Pacific). (n.d.). ILO (International Labour Organization). Retrieved from http://www.ilo.org/asia/WCMS_159348/lang--en/index.htm [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  1. Timor-Leste Basic Skills Training Project. (n.d.). Scope Global. Retrieved from http://www.scopeglobal.com/programs&capabilities/timor-leste-basic-skills-training-project/ [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  1. MPIE (Ministry of Planning, Investment and Strategic). (n.d.). Five Year Report of FDCH (2011-2015). Retrieved from http://www.fdch.gov.tl/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/RELATORIO-5-ANOS-FDCH-FINAL_ENGLISH.compressed.pdf [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  1. Decretos-Leis do Governo. (n.d.). MOJ (Ministry of Justice, Timor-Leste). Retrieved from http://www.mj.gov.tl/jornal/?q=node/13 [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
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  1. ADB (Asian Development Bank). (n.d.). Gender Action Plan. Retrieved from https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/linked-documents/45139-001-tim-gap.pdf [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
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  1. Francis, S. & Julia, F. (n.d.). Timor-Leste’s Automotive Industry Trains its First Female Mechanics. Retrieved from https://www.mlstp.net/uploads/4/8/6/7/48670023/16.06.17_timor-leste%E2%80%99s_automotive_industry_trains_its_first_female_mechanics.pdf [Accessed 1 Jun. 2018].
  • Population

    1,237,251 (2017)a

  • Sex Ratio

    1.01 male(s)/female (2017 est.)b

  • HDI

    0.606 (2015)c

  • GDP (Total)

    $2.61 billion (2017 est.)b
    Note: Non-oil GDP

  • GDP (Per Capita)

    $5,400 (2017 est.)b

  • Industry/Sectors (GDP Contribution)

    Agriculture: 9.4%
    Industry: 57.8%
    Services: 32.8% (2017 est.)b

  • Poverty Rate

    41.8% (2014 est.)b


  • Education Index

    0.494 (2015)c

  • Adult Literacy Rate
    (% Ages 15 and Older)

    67.5% (2015)c

  • Expected Years of Schooling

    12.5 (2015)c

  • Mean Years of Schooling (Adults)

    4.4 (2015)c

  • School Dropout Rate

    18.8% (2013)c


  • Unemployment Rate (Total)

    Total: 5.0% (2015)c

  • Unemployment Rate (Youth -15 -14 Old)

    15.7% (2015)c

  • Composition of Workforce

    Agriculture: 41%
    Industry: 13%
    Services: 45.1% (2013)b

  • a Population Pyramid
    b CIA World Factbook
    c UNDP HDR

    For official government data on key indicators, please refer to data released by official government source(s).

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