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Vocational training partnership with Zambia: How we strengthen the foundations for practice-oriented training in the construction sector

Since 2017, the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Chamber of Skilled Crafts has maintained a vocational training partnership project with the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors (ABCEC) in Zambia. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of economic cooperation and development.

Erik Ruh, EZ-Scout at the Frankfurt-Rhine-Main Chamber of Skilled Crafts, reports on the cooperation. He explains what has been achieved in the project so far and what effects Corona has on the vocational training partnership.

Vocational training is an effective instrument against unemployment and shortage of skilled workers, moreover it is an important prerequisite for the competitiveness of companies. What is the importance of the skilled crafts and its vocational training in the partner country of your project?

The current training system in Zambia is not sufficiently successful in placing qualified graduates in industry who could be employed immediately or after a short period of familiarization. Vocational training in the skilled crafts can make a decisive contribution to changing this situation and establishing a stronger practice and demand orientation in vocational training.

How did the project come about and what are its objectives?

The Frankfurt-Rhine-Main Chamber of Skilled Crafts had already conducted another project on chamber and association partnership in Zambia. The ABCEC had become aware of this and approached us to initiate cooperation.

As a pilot project, a dual vocational training program in the fields of electrical engineering and concrete construction is being conducted. This measure aims to improve the qualification and employability of vocational training graduates in the selected building trades. The aim is to involve industry more actively in vocational training in Zambia and thus make the training more relevant.

Trainee at the Lusaka training location Photo: HWK Rhein-Main


What are the main results of the project so far?

Based on the existing, often good and useful individual modules in the Zambian training system, a dual training program was designed. This program is inspired by the German dual education system and is adapted to the Zambian realities and conditions. The following results have been achieved:

  • Training programs in selected construction professions have been developed in close cooperation with the participating actors (Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors, national TVET authority)
  • Trainers, vocational school teachers and training managers in industry have been trained
    To this end, the companies sent their employees and trainees to the training units at the training location.
  • Methodical-didactic learning aids and selected equipment have been improved in accordance with the requirements of the revised curricula

In 2018 the project was selected by the German Embassy for a visit by BM Dr. Müller. In January 2019, Dr. Müller visited the site and was very impressed by the results achieved.

Bricklayer course: BM Müller visiting the training center in Lusaka (Zambia) Photo: HWK Rhein-Main


What is your experience with the SCIVET instruments during the project?

The instruments have been very helpful in the further development of the project – they were not yet available at the time of project conception.

Of particular importance for the project was the third standard, which deals with the integration of the learning locations company and school. It expresses what has to be taken into account when setting the contents of the partnership.

For the planning of the second project phase, the information about the process, intermediate goals, deadlines and the necessary resources were helpful. This was especially important when it came to the question of what can be done to ensure that the foreign partner identifies with the project and where possible stumbling blocks can be expected.

What hurdles have you already overcome in the course of the project work and what challenges do you still face?

We have succeeded in raising awareness among the participating associations and companies of the importance of training and further education and in introducing the associations to their role in cooperating with vocational schools and government agencies.

Now, one and a half years before the end of the project, the focus is particularly on how the results of the project will be sustained in the long term. The aim is to achieve consistency and to further improve the sustainability of the path taken.

Federal Minister Müller in discussion with the long-term expert of the HWK Sven Buchholz Photo: HWK Rhine-Main

Environmental protection and social and economic sustainability are important issues for the skilled crafts. What role do environmental protection and sustainability play in the project?

German master craftsmen and -women are increasingly involved in the project, for whom the topics of environmental protection and sustainability are on the one hand part of their standard repertoire of assignments in development cooperation (DC) or international vocational training cooperation and on the other hand are also their own concern. Thus, these topics are always automatically considered and effectively anchored in the project.

What effects does Corona have on the project? How do you deal with it?

Business trips of chamber employees and short-term experts are currently not possible. In this situation, it has proven to be enormously helpful that the project operates with a long-term expert who has remained in Zambia and continues to steer the project with the help of local staff. In addition, digital formats will be used, e.g. educational films, which provide complementary knowledge to the training content.

Bricklaying training in the capital: Zambian trainees building exposed brickwork   Photo: HWK Rhein-Main

In which direction can the current project be further developed and how could the cooperation be structured in the future?

In the final phase of the project (phasing out), the focus is on consolidation. Further cooperation without financial means is aimed at, even though this may be difficult without on-site contact. Furthermore, it is important to maintain the trustful, part-national exchange beyond the project cooperation.

What interests does your organization have in this cooperation? What benefits do you derive from it?

Zambia stands out as a country with political stability and a market economy. It offers a market-oriented, economic environment for using existing resources for economic growth and socio-economic development. Such an environment is also of interest to larger, internationally active handicraft enterprises – and thus also to Chamber member companies. Therefore, the chamber plays a pioneering role for these companies.

In addition, by contributing its expertise, the Chamber contributes to the expansion and worldwide strengthening of the dual education system, from which our country will also benefit considerably in the medium to long term.

Erik Ruh


Chamber of Crafts Frankfurt-Rhine-Main

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