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A future career for young people

Participant Dodou is examining a solar panel.

A future career for young people

Around 41.5 % of 18 to 35-year-olds in Gambia are unemployed. These figures come from a job market survey conducted in 2018. The main reason for this is that many of them lack the skills required for a well-paid job. The Gambian-German Advisory Centre for Jobs, Training and Reintegration (GGAC) and the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) are jointly offering them additional training opportunities to improve their prospects. These courses are aimed at unemployed young people and returnees who would like to increase their job opportunities. They take 9 months to complete. The GGAC and GTTI work closely with the private sector to be in a position to offer the trainees a one-month industrial apprenticeship. There are for instance courses on offer in solar technology, rural mechanics and civil engineering.

This programme enables the young people to gain professional qualifications and thus have a greater chance of finding a job. “The programme helps them to develop their creativity and the relevant skills. They learn to understand their sector and can then use this knowledge in practice”, says Wandifa Fatty, centre manager at the GTTI.  

Trained mechanic Kaddy doing some welding.

“More than 90 per cent go on to get full-time jobs”

The vocational training gives participants the skills that are in demand on the job market. It benefits from National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA) certification. The training includes both theoretical and practical lessons. It involves not only technical content, but also basic skills such as reading and arithmetic. The training is followed by an apprenticeship with partners from the private sector. This enables the apprentices to develop and extend their practical and technical abilities.

Once they have successfully completed the training, the young people are given soft-skills training (in entrepreneurship, communication and marketing) and are given help in finding a job. They learn how to write a cover letter and CV, and what is important when it comes to job interviews. The results speak for themselves: “More than 90 per cent go on to get full-time jobs. Some open their own workshops, while others travel around the country to work”, says Wandifa Fatty. “Our courses are becoming more and more popular and are seen as promoting industrialisation and a good quality of life. Many young people have by now recognised the significance of technical and vocational education and training.”  

Precision work: mechanic Kaddy doing her measuring.

Workers from the countryside find jobs

The GTTI training courses are intended to enable workers from the countryside to get jobs in the welding industry, in construction and in the field of solar technology. Muhammed is a good example of how well this works. He completed the programme and is now working as a welder in a workshop in Soma, in the Lower River Division. “The training improved my life. I can now offer my services to the people in my town. That was unthinkable a few years ago”, says the 34-year-old.  

Muhammed feels the most valuable aspect of the programme was the practical training, where he was able to develop his technical skills in an industrial welding and fabrication company. “I did my apprenticeship at the ACE Workshop in Westfield, Serekunda. It motivated me to learn and made me familiar with different machines and techniques.“

A desire for ongoing training

The participants are also inspired to continue their training, establish networks and develop management skills. “I successfully completed the course in August 2021 and a short time later I signed a contract as a solar technician”, says Dodou, who took the course in solar technology. He gained theoretical and practical knowledge at the GTTI about simple solar systems for domestic use. His everyday working life involves installing, repairing and maintaining small home solar systems in houses, gardens and communities. The 27-year-old is currently completing an advanced course in solar technology at the Sterling Technical Training Centre. This ongoing training is preparing him to deal with more complex, industrial solar systems. It will also enable him to become a solar technology instructor for simple solar systems.

Women are also being given an opportunity

Girls and women who were previously restricted to housework can now benefit from the training to work in typically male professions. The programme gives them the necessary self-confidence to fulfil themselves professionally and to create a future full of possibilities – just as Kaddy is doing. This 31-year-old trained at the GTTI as a rural mechanic in the welding sector.  

She is currently continuing her vocational training with a local company. “I defied all the odds to pursue a career in a sector dominated by men”, says Kaddy. She welds items such as front doors, gates and supports for water tanks. “I really enjoy my work, so I want to motivate young girls to pursue a career in the sector that suits them and gives them pleasure.” She is hoping that girls no longer consider the work of a mechanic as a purely male job and therefore shy away from it.  

Mechanic Kaddy has prevailed in a profession dominated by men.

Kaddy knows from personal experience how difficult it can be to get started. But she doesn’t see this as a reason to give up, or not even try: “My family is now fully supporting me to work in this profession. I even have my father’s support, although he was at first against it because I’m a woman. He can now see how successful I am and has changed his mind.”

As of: 06/2022

I defied all the odds to pursue a career in a sector dominated by men.
– Kaddy

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