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Work brings security

by Adelheid Schultze
High unemployment threatens social stability in any nation. In fragile countries, which are too weakened by violent conflict to guarantee citizens the rule of law, security and welfare, unemployment aggravates all other problems. These countries typically are marked by a very big share of young people in the population. [ By Adelheid Schultze ]

Opening up opportunities for young people to secure livelihoods is a building block towards promoting peace. For this reason, Germany’s Foreign Office commissioned InWEnt to run the programme “Vocational Training to Stabilise Fragile States” in 2009. Building and supporting vocational training institutions is the way to offer job seekers a qualification which is in demand on the labour market.

InWEnt has decades of experience in vocational training. Its precursor institutions, the German Foundation for International Development and the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft, already carried out relevant programmes on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. It is a well-established fact that professional development accelerates economic progress.

Of course, no German government agency can provide vocational training to young people in foreign countries. It makes sense, however, to offer didactic training to teachers at vocational schools. It is even more important to raise awareness of labour-market needs among the professionals who design the curricula and to put them in touch with partners in the private sector. To this end, InWEnt holds dialogue with ministries and educational institutions, business associations and companies in various countries.

Capacity building in this sector creates the institutional environment required for vocational training to succeed on an everyday basis. In this context, the work of InWEnt often complements the engagement of other German institutions such as the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and KfW Entwicklungsbank.

InWEnt makes the most of networks in politics, business and education throughout the world. Such networks thus also support the current programme on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office, which will run initially for four years. The total bud­get is of € 5.5 million.

InWEnt’s partners in the various countries design the measures to be taken in accordance with their ideas and the local conditions. After all, the prevailing circumstances in Afghanistan are quite different from those in Georgia or Colombia (see text box) – just consider issues like infrastructure, private-sector development or socio-cultural customs. Other partner countries are Armenia, Iraq, Moldova and Tajikistan.

The programme in Tajikistan currently has two main focal areas. The first is to impart practical knowledge to trainers and teachers, and to give them a theoretical understanding of the labour market. They need both in order to train young adults for careers in construction, electro-technology or tourism, for example. On the other hand, project staff also cooperate closely with companies and authorities which need qualified professionals in the structurally weak region of Gorno-Badakhshan. At the same time, the project gives advice on business start-ups because for some qualified people, self-employment is an attractive alternative to being hired by someone else – and successful company founders have the potential to create more jobs.

Germany’s Federal Government also wants to help stabilise the fragile peace in Iraq. Iraq’s most important resource is oil, which secures 90 % of the state revenue. Nonetheless, a quarter of the people in Iraq live below the poverty line. Their poverty and hardship contributes to the tension between Sunnis and Shiites, and between Arabs and Kurds.

Professional development makes a difference. Young people find their own outlook on life through work, which makes them less susceptible to political agitation. Of the eight million or so Iraqis who have work, more than half are employed in the service sector, just under a fifth in industry and a good fifth in agriculture. In Iraq, ­InWEnt works with the regional government’s education ministry in Kurdistan. The aim is to develop labour markets at the local level and to provide young people with appropriate education and training so they can do justice to the requirements of future jobs. Vocational training is offered in areas like electrical matters and – by special request from our Kurdish partners – agriculture.

Competent capacity building takes into account that the labour market and the education system need to interact. Formal education does little to boost the economy if business does not need what is taught. Vocational training institutions therefore have to strategically design their courses to cater to the requirements of the economy.

In order for this approach to become established, InWEnt offers leadership and management courses to leaders in the education sector. These people then become disseminators who pass on their knowledge to their colleagues. InWEnt works with a three-level approach to ensure individual insights do not fizzle out in the daily grind. Individual training is complemented by strategic consultation with regard to the organisational development of the respective employer and by dialogue with political decision-makers.