Making training and education more accessible to refugees and host communities in Ethiopia
Training of trainers at Hyatt Regency in Addis Ababa
Training of trainers at Hyatt Regency in Addis Ababa
Despite its own more recent problems, with its open-door policy, Ethiopia remains a prominent destination for migrants and refugees, particularly those escaping conflicts elsewhere in the region. The country has an extensive system in place for the protection of forced migrants and hosts about 800,000 refugees who live mostly in 24 camps across the East African nation. Most of these displaced people and refugees are unable to find work and lack the skills and means to become self-employed.
In support of Ethiopian efforts to tackle this enormous challenge, the German development agency, GIZ, established a programme to improve the job prospects of refugees as well as those in host communities, strengthen the integration of refugees and foster the socio-economic resilience of both groups. Focussed on qualifications and employment perspectives (QEP), the project is operational in Addis Ababa and the regions of Gambella, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, and Tigray.
We have a fantastic team spread over the Northern and Southern hemisphere. NIRAS proposed a deputy Team Leader on the ground in Addis and we had two other experts in the regions as well as a good number of well qualified short-term experts ... It was a great decision from NIRAS to divide the work. I would like to see more of this kind of approach. Giving more responsibility to local staff and building the capacity onsite is key to motivating and mobilising our local team members. Above all we learn from each other this way.
Yvonne Dörfler, Project Team Leader
A more responsive TVET programme
Among others, QEP works towards improving the quality of vocational training, making it more relevant to meet labour market needs and creating pathways into employment. NIRAS’s role in this project has been to look at the access and quality of TVET, working with different training institutions to revise and develop curricula, train the trainers, and, importantly, improve their collaboration with the private sector and employment agencies. With the escalating conflict in the north, since November 2020 NIRAS’ role in the QEP project has focused on Gambella and Addis mostly in the sectors of metalwork, construction (brick laying, plumbing and electrical installation), agriculture, hospitality, and electronics.
“Although the TVET colleges we work with in Gambella and Addis are advanced in terms of pedagogy, they have not been well connected with industry or government institutions involved in employment creation. They work in isolation,” Team Leader Yvonne Dörfler explains. “The system of public and private partnership in Ethiopia is fragmented. GIZ has done a great job in building capacity of TVET colleges and improving collaboration with governmental job creation agencies so there is a link from training to the agency that helps graduates find work. The QEP project has moved this forward by creating a process to enable the TVET colleges understand what skills industry needs and then creating courses to ensure trainees are qualified to meet that demand.”
One of QEP’s important achievements has been the development of shorter, more tailored courses that meet the special needs of refugees and those living in host communities.
“Access to TVET is a big problem for people living in camps. In many regions, authorities have not yet implemented the ‘out-of-camp’ policy so getting work permits is next to impossible. The distance to TVET colleges is also an issue as are the entry requirements as refugees often do not have the certificates needed to get in. We developed some short courses based on industry needs and trainers conduct training in the camps where possible,” Yvonne says. “For example, in Gambella, we were asked to formalise training on cobble stone chiseling and paving. As there are no tarmac roads in the area, this is a skill in demand. This is the kind of snowball effect where the TVET college looks for what the job market wants, trains their trainers, who then in turn train the host communities. The qualified candidates can then go to the employment agency and receive support to start their own small business – it’s a really good approach.”
Yvonne also pointed to another issue with TVET programs where trainers do not have opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge (upskill). In the hospitality sector, the QEP team linked Nefas Silk Polytechnic College (NSPC) with the Hyatt Regency in Addis Ababa to collectively organise a ten-day training-of-trainers on housekeeping for hospitality instructors. The hotel allowed the trainees to use its facilities, working closely with hotel employees who became the trainers for this novel up-skilling exercise. There was close supervision from the hotel which also provided uniforms and the refreshments and lunches in between practical sessions. Throughout the training, participants learned about hotel policies and standards but were also exposed to the latest technology used in the hospitality sector.
“The public-private partnership was a clear win-win and both parties are committed to strengthening their cooperation with further innovative ideas and creating a better TVET system for the country. From their side, NSPC will reach out to other industry stakeholders to engage them in the TVET sector,” Yvonne explains.
Hyatt Regency, as part of its Hyatt Thrive initiative is always keen to collaboratively work with the public sector and contribute its part to the hospitality sector.
Ato Endale Dejene , Training Manager at Hyatt Regency
Faced with COVID and conflict, a hybrid leadership model is proposed
The QEP project had to overcome the double challenge of operating during a pandemic and civil war. The regional focus had to change with many activities being unable to be carried out, Yvonne’s onsite participation was limited due to GIZ’s strict travel regulations, and the project was not able to get international short-term experts into the country for a week or two of work.
“I have to say, we have a fantastic team spread over the Northern and Southern hemisphere. NIRAS proposed a deputy Team Leader on the ground in Addis and we had two other experts in the regions as well as a good number of well qualified short-term experts. I worked remotely and despite me not being there, we could get things up and running due to the strong team on the ground. Our deputy team leader was a great manager and really well connected so it was a great decision from NIRAS to divide the work. I would like to see more of this kind of approach. Giving more responsibility to local staff and building the capacity onsite is key to motivating and mobilising our local team members. Above all we learn from each other this way – it was a first off for me to do home office leadership but the way it has gone has been great. We have been very successful in achieving more than 90% of our given responsibilities. It’s not my first time working with NIRAS and I hope it won’t be my last,” Yvonne proclaims.
NIRAS’s work is coming to a close on the QEP project but GIZ will continue with the activities now set in motion. The team has proposed next steps such as providing institutional support to the main public college in Gambella and continuing to support the regional employment programme. There is also an opportunity to place a stronger emphasis on medium-scale commercial agriculture within the TVET programme to promote farming as a business. Yvonne is confident that given GIZ’s and the Ethiopian Government’s commitment to improve cooperation between TVET stakeholders, employment creation approaches implemented through QEP will contribute to producing a qualified work force that will create employment and overall enhance the economy of the country.
Our college is very much interested to further strengthen the public private partnership in order to make TVET job market-oriented and of high quality.
Ato Mulugeta, Project Coordinator and Instructor at the Nefas Silk Polytechnic College