Although vocational education and training is considered to be a good option for improving livelihood opportunities for marginalised youth in developing countries, it often suffers from an image problem. This situation affects the quality of entrants, instruction and skills acquisition in training programmes. In this article, the researchers report on results and experiences from a participatory action research (PAR) project initiated to work towards the improvement of vocational education and skills training for early school-leavers. The research project was conducted in Mbarara district, south-western Uganda. The results show that the project created an awareness and change of attitude on the part of participants towards vocational education and training. It also established links between training institutions and employers; that is, between the skills supply and demand sides. Based on experiences and reflections from this project, the researchers argue that PAR can be a productive approach for facilitating skills development in vocational education and training.