Since 2019, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been cooperating with a group of craft institutions as part of the project ‘Employment-Oriented Qualification in the Skilled Crafts’ to provide youth and young adults in Jordan with a future in the skilled crafts sector. Anette Kasten, Business Scout for Development at the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts and Small Businesses, reports on this project.
Cooperation of the skilled crafts sector and the GIZ in Jordan: Successful image campaign and more
Vocational training is an effective tool against unemployment and a shortage of skilled workers, and also an important prerequisite for the competitiveness of companies. What is the importance of the skilled trades and vocational education and training in Jordan, the partner country of your project?
Jordan is about the same size as Austria. It consists of 80 % desert landscapes and has two centers of economic activity, the larger in the northwest around the capital Amman and a smaller one in the south near Aqaba on the Red Sea. The total population is just over 10 million, of which about 3 million are refugees from various conflicts in the region.
The traditional arts and crafts, sculptors, painters, potters or even the baker’s trade, are – as in many countries of the Middle East – an important factor in the economic performance. What is missing, however, is the technical development of classic crafts – such as those needed today in the construction and finishing trades – and, of course, modern technical crafts as a whole.
However, the importance of crafts, their modernization and the establishment of new crafts professions are not highly valued in Jordanian society. Academic or even commercial, administrative or technical training are at the top of the wish list of most families when it comes to the future professions of their children. If possible, they should obtain a secure job in the state and the army or find work in the few industrial sectors in the country.
View over Amman; Picture: © Dimitris Vetsikas via pixabay
How did the project come about and what are its goals?
The goal of the project, which was initiated by my predecessor together with the ZDH, and the GIZ in Jordan in 2017- 2018, is the introduction of modern skilled trades and the technical further development of existing skilled trades, as well as a social upgrading of the skilled trades themselves. The civil war in Syria and the situation in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, which have been hosting refugees in large numbers, was also a crucial point. The project is part of the special initiative “Fighting the Causes of Flight – Reintegrating Refugees” of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It targets both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanian populations. The focus is on youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 30.
How does this project differ from previous projects that the participating craft organizations have already carried out as part of development cooperation?
Until then, most of the craft organizations (HWO) had mainly experience with sequa’s vocational training partnerships (BBP) and chamber and association partnerships (KVP). In these programs, the craft organizations have to build up structures in the partner countries themselves in order to implement the projects under their own management and budget responsibility.
The project “Employment-oriented qualification in the craft sector”, on the other hand, is anchored in the bilateral priority area “Vocational training and employment” of GIZ in Jordan. Therefore, in this case, the crafts organization acts as a subcontractor of the GIZ and can benefit from the existing GIZ structure in Jordan.
In this project, the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts is working together with GIZ and several craft institutions. How was this consortium formed and what tasks does the ZDH assume in it?
The ZDH presented this cooperation project with GIZ in Jordan to its members at the beginning and encouraged them to participate.
In the current project, the ZDH has become the voice of the skilled crafts sector to the GIZ project management and exchanges information with them about the activities and possible further tasks that could be taken on by skilled crafts organizations.
My task here is to coordinate everyone involved internally and to communicate the project externally.
A decisive event in the formation of the cooperation structure that exists today was the “kick-off workshop” in March 2019, for which GIZ in Jordan invited the interested craft organizations and the ZDH to Amman. Various Jordanian institutions and vocational training organizations also took part in the workshop. All participants sounded out together which trades are particularly interesting for Jordan and which measures the German crafts organizations can contribute to the project.
The kick-off-workshop in Amman. Picture: © GIZ / Sela
After the kick-off workshop, three German craft organizations – Bauverbände NRW e. V.1) , Kreishandwerkerschaft Steinfurt-Warendorf2) and Kreishandwerkerschaft Hersfeld-Rotenburg – worked with various Jordanian partners to identify the occupational profiles that they would subsequently work on together. These are occupations from the main construction and finishing trades, the bakery and hairdressing trades (incl. cosmetics), metal and precision crafts (CNC), welding technology, carpentry, painting and varnishing.
The main project tasks are divided into:
- Improvement of existing qualification measures for the teaching staff of Jordanian training institutions;
Analysis, further development and improvement of existing curricula;
- Development and implementation of a national image campaign for the skilled trades in Jordan;
- Further training for management and teaching staff of training institutions, chambers and associations – including a study trip to Germany;
- Support for the further development of accreditation and certification processes for selected skilled crafts professions.
Who are your key supporters in the project?
The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ in Jordan together with the above-mentioned craft organizations, but also with other partners.
The political partner in Jordan is the Ministry of Labor. On the ground, the project works with various institutions and organizations in the public, private and non-profit sectors. These include vocational training providers, training centers, chambers and associations, as well as local and international NGOs.
What are the main outcomes of the project so far?
By December 2020 1,751 youth (51% of whom are women and 37% of whom are Syrian refugees) have participated in the information, counseling, and training services offered. Of these, 1,341 participants* have additionally completed vocational training in the craft sector.
A particularly visible result of this project was the first phase of the nationwide image campaign. This project component was the responsibility of the Kreishandwerkerschaft Steinfurt-Warendorf and the Jordanian partner organization Education for Employment Jordan. The Jordanian image campaign followed the model of the image campaign of the German skilled crafts sector and was adapted by the participants for the Jordanian context.
Jordanian image campaign. Picture: © GIZ und EFE Jordan
Part of the image campaign was a promotional video that was shown on social media and various online platforms. In addition, radio spots, TV and radio interviews, and a billboard campaign ran throughout the country. A survey of 200 people questioned showed that after the campaign a larger proportion of them could imagine a future for their children as craftsmen or craftswomen. The same effect was seen among young people when it comes to their own career choices.
What hurdles have you already overcome in the course of the project and what challenges do you still face?
Overall, the Jordanian side welcomed the German craft organizations with great openness. There were hurdles where the expectations of both partners, both on the Jordanian and the German side, did not match the realities on the ground and the possibilities of the project. Overall, the partners had to adjust to completely different training standards and the logic of the responsible institutions.
For example, the training periods for Jordanian construction trades range from 2 to 9 months, while in Germany these training courses last between 2 and 3.5 years. Also, in some Jordanian institutions the contact persons changed, so that delays occurred and project parts could not be implemented in the planned time.
Picture: © Hartmann
And finally, with short-term postings of German experts of 3-20 days, preparation and work must be as efficient as possible in order to achieve the respective project goal. This was not always completely successful due to restrictions of an administrative, but also technical nature.
An example of this is the use of a plastering machine during the plasterer training courses, which failed to work after plastering two walls. Another machine had to be put into operation to pump out the material that was in the hoses. This was because there was a risk that the material would harden in the plaster hose and clog it. The Jordanian trainers and officials were very uncomfortable with the situation. But especially such a situation, which can also occur in real construction operations, is very instructive for the participants when they are involved in the process of finding a solution.
What are the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic – in terms of restrictions within the scope of the corona control measures – on the project? How are the respective project partners dealing with this?
The biggest hurdle in the implementation of the project was the elimination of all face-to-face events due to the Corona pandemic as of March 2020. However, the project participants from both sides responded very flexibly to this. All assignments dealing with theoretical knowledge, such as curriculum development, management and administration, accreditation/certification, could be carried out with digital media.
The German and Jordanian partners, who were to implement the image campaign, had gotten to know each other personally in only a few in-person meetings beforehand. The partners took all subsequent development steps in joint MS team meetings. Thus, they designed the campaign, set themes, chose actors and created the films of this very successful campaign without meeting in person a second time. Under these circumstances, the Jordanian partners took a much stronger role and made the image campaign their project.
Image campaign in the streets of Jordan; Picture: © GIZ und EFE Jordan
What fell victim to the Corona crisis, however, were the missions to technical training aimed at craft skills and abilities. These will have to be made up for at a later date. Currently, I have applied – together with the Business Scout for Development of the HWK Frankfurt-Rhein-Main – for BMZ special funds (Corona-Response) to shoot video teaching series that can also be used in other missions in developing countries. They provide a partial substitute for classroom training during the Corona pandemic. In the future, such digital formats can be used to better prepare for and follow up on on-site trainings.
Environmental protection and social and economic sustainability are important topics for the skilled trades. What role do the topics of environmental protection and sustainability play in the project?
All instruction of craft skills in the partner countries is taught according to German sustainability and environmental standards. These standards are also incorporated into the textbooks as the curricula are further developed, thus forming part of the modernization of the skilled crafts in the partner countries. However, personal exchange is important here, as there is a great need for discussion, especially on these topics, due to the mostly very different conditions in the partner countries and in Europe.
What experiences have you had with the SCIVET-instruments in the project?
The first project phases were characterized by getting to know the different standards and requirements, to which the participants from both sides had to adjust. In the second (2021/22) and third project phases (2023/24), the SCIVET tools should be used more by the experts of the crafts organizations.
What are GIZ’s interests in this cooperation? What benefits do you derive from it?
In GIZ, craft projects are becoming increasingly important. GIZ colleagues working on the ground see the consequences of the neglect of crafts in developing and emerging countries. Due to a lack of expertise, especially in the technical sector (electrics/electronics, plumbing/heating/air conditioning, metal construction, main construction and finishing trades, automotive mechatronics, facility management) but also in traditional trades, e.g. the food industry and arts and crafts, modern machines cannot be operated and current work processes cannot be introduced.
The industry also does not have a middle class of experts who are necessary for the development of a modern infrastructure. Therefore, in the bilateral agreements of the partner countries with the German government, craft and training projects are increasingly initiated, which are implemented by GIZ with competent craft organizations and individual craftspeople.
This project is a good example of how cooperation between GIZ and German craft organizations can succeed and could set an example in other countries in the future.
How could the current project be developed further and how could cooperation be structured in the future?
The further development of the project envisages expanding and supporting a new training center in Aqaba. In addition to trades, measures for career counseling and commercial knowledge will also be integrated.
In addition, other professions that are also the focus of the Jordanian Ministry of Labor will be promoted, including facility management and automotive mechatronics for electric and hybrid vehicles.
To this end, all measures that had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be made up for, for example two study trips to Germany and the cancelled on-side events.
The project is conduted by:
- Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Baugewerbes NRW mbH (for Bauverbände NRW e. V.)
- KH Service- und Wirtschaftsgesellschaft mbH (for Kreishandwerkerschaft Steinfurt-Warendorf)