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Helvetas: Building futures through skills training

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

Helvetas: Building futures through skills training

Manju Dahit from Rajapur Bardiya-8 joined as an apprentice at SH Steel Udhyog where women were only hired for light jobs like sewing. Manju did Dual VET-Apprenticeship through ENSSURE project, a bilateral initiative between the Governments of Nepal and Switzerland. She is among the seven women who completed Dual VET-Apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering from Bheri Technical School, Nepalgunj. She was one of the first to do mechanical jobs (working with mechanical equipment, welding etc.), earlier deemed as a job for the men in the factory. She used to feel awkward and scared initially but gelled with other colleagues soon after. The in-company trainer also helped them learn and feel comfortable with such work. She started with an easy paint job and slowly graduated to do more strenuous work like welding and drilling. She is now supervising the bending machine unit, leading colleagues including male workers.  She has recently completed her skill test, wherein after, she was offered a job in the same company. 

When she joined as an apprentice, she got Rs 6,000 per month, which gradually increased to Rs 8,000 and Rs 15,000. Now that she has been hired as staff, she gets a basic salary of Rs 16,100 plus benefits including food. Her earnings have helped her family financially, to cover debts and regular household payments. She is also saving NPR 5,000/- monthly. She aspires to start her own factory in her community in the future.

Manju is among 1,597 apprentices enrolled in ENSSURE project’s Dual VET-Apprenticeship since 2018/19. The project has successfully run three batches of Dual VET-Apprenticeship programs. The courses offered in this program are Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Automobile Engineering, Information Technology, Hotel Management, Building Construction, and Early Childhood Development (ECD) Facilitation. The course is 24-months long wherein learning takes place in two places – training institutions and workplace. The first three and half months of learning takes place in the simulated environment at the world of education/training institute, which is Off-the -Job Training. The next 19.5 months of learning takes place in the Business/Industries, or the real working environment at the world of work, which is On-the-Job Training. 

ENSSURE also implements another Dual VET learning—1696 hours’ Training with OJT in Professional Vehicle Body Repair Technician, Professional Motorcycle Mechanic, Professional Light Vehicle Mechanic, Professional Computer hardware and network technician, Professional Plumber,  Professional Mason, Professional Carpenter, Professional Aluminum Fabricator, Professional Building Electrician, Professional LCD, LED Television Repair Technician, Professional Telecom Technician, Professional Cook, and Professional Welder. The learning in this course is also divided in two places—the world of education and the world of work with the majority of learning happening in training institutions and around three months in the business/industries. Till now, 6,463 youths have enrolled in the Training with OJT program through ENSSURE project.

Gita Ale, 28, of Dhaddaghari, Bharatpur-16, always wanted to study hotel management. Her dream to study hotel management courses remained unfulfilled due to financial constraint. She got the opportunity to change this when she got entrance in ENSSURE’s level II Training with OJT in Professional Cook course. She now owns a restaurant, and the two are looking forward to expanding the business to make it a hotel. 

Living with her husband’s joint family of 11 people including her 4-year-old son, Gita was looking after her family at home. She had been educated till high school but did not have specific training for hotel management. With the intention to give wings to her dream, she went to the ward office one day and left her phone number asking to be informed if there was any training on hotel management. Soon, she was informed about ENSSURE’s training. Besides learning the basics of professional cooking, she also got the opportunity to participate in the Entrepreneurship Development Class.

Gita completed her on-the-job training at Himashikhar Restaurant, Putalibazar, Narayangarh for about 5 months. After which she started her own restaurant, Banbatika Cottage, next to her house with an investment of around Rs 400,000. It has been almost two years since she started the business, and it has been running well. She earns about Rs 35,000 a month and is saving Rs 10,000 monthly. She has taken a loan of Rs 200,000 to start the business, which she is paying off with the savings. 

ENSSURE also runs 96-hours Workers’ Further Training program for the skill upgradation of the existing workers and returnee migrants. The program, like the two Dual VET programs, are run in close collaboration with the business/industries and associations. Currently, skill upgradation is offered in 33 course contents as per the need expressed by the business/industries. 7,860 workers have already benefited from this program.

Shyam Chaudhary, who runs S Electric in Butwal has seen a rise in his income and work opportunities after he completed workers’ further training course in AC fitting. He has received several jobs to do AC fitting at client’s residences and offices. He is thinking of involving his younger brother also in this business now.

Since the traditional educational system in the country is more institute based, ENSSURE also conducts career guidance sessions in the community schools for grade 9 and 10 students, so they are aware of the opportunities of Dual VET system also. A career guidance system was developed with support from India’s Promise foundation for this purpose and survey among over 1000 students in Nepal. Currently, the project provides six 110 mins sessions to grade 9 students and one follow-up session to grade 10 students. The students are informed about different aspects of career and future opportunities. At the end of the session, the students make an informed choice of a career to pursue based on their interest and aptitude. The project has trained 593 career guidance teachers from over 250 schools, who have provided career guidance to over 30,000 students. 

Anjali Gautam is one of the few girls who are opting to pursue technical studies in a small community in Madi, Chitwan. She was thinking of following the norm of letting the marks obtained in her high Secondary Education Examination (SEE) guide her in her further studies regardless of what was best suited for her. She would study science if she got high scores, or management if she got less marks. Her school, Janakalyan Madhyamik Bidhyalaya, organized a 6-days career guidance session when she was in 9th grade. During this session, she learnt that it would be better if she considers her interests and skills before making a decision. This guided her to choose between the options of pursuing a career in Architecture, Civil Engineering, IT or science. Since these were options that were not considered as career options for girls, she had not given them a thought. Now, she made up her mind to take up Civil Engineering. After her SEE, she applied and got admission in Diwakar Smriti Prabidhik Shikshyalaya, a CTEVT constituent school in her hometown Madi itself.

The bilateral project between the governments of Nepal and Switzerland-ENSSURE project aims to contribute to assisting Nepali workers, particularly from disadvantaged groups, to benefit from continuous employment and an improved standard of living. The project also aims that the Nepali businesses and industries will benefit from skilled human resources, and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system will benefit from increased inclusion and expansion of its services. The first phase of the project is implemented from January 2016 to July 2023. Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) is implementing this with technical assistance from Helvetas Nepal. The second phase of the project is being implemented from September 2021 to July 2025. It is being implemented by CTEVT at the federal level, Ministry of Social Development in the province level (Province-1, Bagmati Province and Lumbini Province) and 33 municipalities within these provinces at the local level, with technical assistance from Helvetas Nepal.