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26.06.2023 | Blog

Skill Up! Better vocational training for young people

The Skill Up! training program offers young people in Burundi the chance to learn a sought-after profession.

Exchange of young people in the Skill Up! training program in Burundi
Exchange of young people in the Skill Up! training program in Burundi © Welthungerhilfe
Amedee Nkurunziza Communication Officer Burundi

Gloriose Murekakete is a bricklayer. The mother of three works on a construction site, supervising building construction and assisting with the work. In her current project, she is employed for five months, six days a week. She leaves for work at 7 a.m. and is back home with her family by 4:30 p.m. Women are a rarity in her line of work, at least in her community of Bwambarangwe in Kirundo province, in the far north of Burundi.

But this is about to change. Gloriose attended an exchange meeting with young trainees from the Skill Up! training program. These meetings take place regularly to motivate and inspire young people. Gloriose says the bricklayer's job is physically demanding, but the efforts are worth it: she can feed her family with her income.

n the Skill Up! training program, young people are inspired through storytelling
Bricklayer Gloriose Murekakete tells young people about her career © Welthungerhilfe

Developing prospects

Burundi, a small country in terms of area, has a very high population density with over twelve million inhabitants. The simultaneous high population growth of around 3% per year and the consequences of climate change mean that the pressure on available resources is growing. Kirundo in the country's north is significantly affected by weather extremes such as droughts and floods. More than 50% of the people in the country suffer from hunger.

The inhabitants of Burundi are very young: a large part of the population is under 30 years old. The Skill Up! training program is aimed at young people without jobs and intends to provide them with good vocational training. It is essential to create new perspectives for them.

Targeted support for women entering the workforce

More than half of the population in Burundi lives below the poverty line. Welthungerhilfe has been active in the country since 2001.

It is challenging for women in Burundi to build up a good income – they often have no school-leaving qualifications and are financially dependent on someone. The training program is therefore aimed primarily at young women, pregnant women or single parents, and people who have difficulty finding a job due to a disability. What they learn enables them to catch up on their school-leaving qualifications and succeed in the labor market.

Bricklayer Gloriose motivates the participants with her stories for new paths and gives them courage. Her assertiveness in a male-dominated occupation helps break down traditional gender roles in the professional world. To work comfortably, she wears pants, which is unusual for rural regions in Burundi. Traditionally, women wear skirts.

We women are just as capable as our brothers to pursue these professions!

Gloriose Murekakete Bricklayer in the province of Kirundo

Three training centers in Kirundo province

The cross-national training program Skill Up! was created through the initiative of Gudrun Bauer. From 2015 onward, Welthungerhilfe (WHH) and Bauer Charity gGmbH further developed the program. The program supports centers worldwide that offer around 21,000 young women and men between the ages of 15 and 35 the chance to gain professional qualifications. It exists in Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Uganda and Burundi.

In the north of Burundi, WHH supports three vocational training centers. An example of their work is equipping young people with sufficient learning materials. Here, they can prepare for training in various occupational fields. They can choose, for example, from agriculture and livestock farming, construction, carpentry or sewing. In the first year of the training program, 133 trainees have already participated. The aim is to expand capacity and reach up to 2,000 people with the program in the coming years.

Young people in Burundi applaud after a presentation on the Skill Up! training program.
Gloriose’s stories enthrall the young women and men. The mother of three receives a standing ovation at the end of the exchange. © Welthungerhilfe

Job opportunities and a better life for trainees, trainers and their families.

In cooperation with its local partner Burundi Business Incubator (BBIN), WHH supports young people between the ages of 15 and 35 in developing their technical skills and personal competencies – so-called "life skills." These include reliability, teamwork and assertiveness. Self-confidence is also part of the preparation for working life.

During the exchange with Gloriose, the young project participants in Burundi are visibly impressed by her career and courage. These positive insights show them what opportunities exist and offer them prospects for the future.

How WHH is helping in Kirundo in northern Burundi

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