Since October 2013, nine young professionals from Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam have been involved in the Mekong Institute (MI) in order to gain educational and hands-on experiences within the MI's Young Greater Mekong Sub-region (YGMS) Professional Program. It is a six-month structured and experiential learning program aimed at developing the region's human resources in both private and public sectors. The program was initiated in 2007 and led to a three-year, joint MI – New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP) project called "Capacity Development Program for Integrating CLMV Economics into AEC" beginning in 2012.
Throughout the six month learning period, a series of professional trainings, which include on-the-job training and researches for learning projects, have been provided to the nine YGMS participants. They were specifically assigned to work in four different departments, including Rural Development, Mekong Development, Trade and Investment Facilitation, and Technical Coordination and Communications. Senior staff from participants' respective departments guided them through research projects that spanned three thematic areas: Rural Development, Trade and Investment Facilitation, and Mekong Development and capacity building in various GMS countries.
At the end of the program, MI organized a one-day workshop on April 8, 2014 for all nine YGMS participants to present and share their research and learning projects' results with program managers and relevant staff. Throughout their presentations, these young professionals showed immense improvement on research execution related to regional cooperation and economic integration issues in comparison to their 2013 presentations. This improvement implies that they gained deeper knowledge on research methodologies, their research topics and the context of GMS cooperation.
This improvement serves as a key indicator of success for the YGMS Professional Program, as tangible strides were made in areas of human resource and capacity development. Mr. Ung Malar, a YGMS professional from Cambodia expressed, "I have learnt many things related to development and cooperation in the Mekong region, especially the impact of economic integration through the economic corridor development approach, SMEs [Small and Medium Enterprises] development and promotion in CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam] countries, facilitation skills and local and regional economic development."