The graduates of Butwal Technical Institute (BTI) stand at the forefront of solving one of Nepal’s greatest challenges. The country is one of the most promising for hydropower, but has so far only developed a fraction of its potential. At the same time, demand for energy is growing rapidly, both domestically and in the rest of the South Asia region. By providing energy-related vocational training, the institute provides the hydropower industry with skilled labour.
The Norwegian engineer Odd Hoftun was instrumental for the establishment of the institute back in 1963. Observing the tremendous impact of hydropower in developing his own country, Hoftun envisioned a similar trajectory for Nepal. Since its inception, hundreds of students have received theoretical training at the institute and been exposed to industrial environments through apprenticeships. Today, a large proportion of the students are from poorer segments of society and the institute aims systematically at training girls.
Driver of local enterprise
All students enrol in programmes intended to equip them with skills needed to establish their own businesses. The institute has therefore been a driving force for the development of local enterprise in the Lumbini region. BTI graduates in Butwal currently direct at least 45 electro mechanical companies, which employ over 1000 people. While industrial development in Nepal is still at an early stage, small and medium sized enterprises are increasingly able to deliver manufacturing goods to smaller hydropower plants. These enterprises have extended employment opportunities and reduced the number of skilled workers going abroad.
In 2013, the Embassy signed a contract with BTI to upgrade its facilities and increase enrolment. Børge Brende, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, has stated that fostering private enterprise is one of the most effective means of reducing poverty. Norway therefore remains committed to supporting industrial development in Nepal.