Even in times of crisis – higher-level education and training guards against unemployment

Dortmund Chamber of Crafts and Trades improves basic conditions as a result of vocational education and training (VET) partnership with vocational school and Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Albania.

Vocational education and training (VET) are pivotal in ensuring the supply of skilled workers and in combating unemployment. Hope Consulting GmbH is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dortmund Chamber of Crafts and Trades and is the organisation responsible for running international development projects.

Since December 2019 it has been implementing a VET partnership with the Shën Jozefi Punëtor vocational school in Rrëshen in Albania, and with the Tirana Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The project's goal is to put in place high-quality initial, advanced and continuing education and training taking into account the needs of the regional economy in northern Albania, and also to tackle the root causes of migration via economic development.

"Albania suffers from a high level of youth unemployment. Its proximity to Europe means that many young people leave the country and attempt, for example, to complete training in Germany," explains Tobias Schmidt, head of international project work at the Dortmund Chamber of Crafts and Trades.

He explains that a lot of things are made in Tirana and demand for skilled workers in the city is therefore high. "The crafts and trades, or more specifically qualified skilled workers, enjoy a high status in Albania, and this is a route which ensures rapid entry into the labour market. The region is therefore an excellent location for promoting vocational education and training," explains Schmidt.

By establishing sustainable capacity in workshops locally and running train-the-trainer courses – for example in welding, precision engineering, and in plumbing, heating and air conditioning technology as well as electrical engineering – the goal is to improve training conditions and, at the same time, establish specific continuing training offers.

This also includes setting up welding course sites, the purpose of which is to provide training under the guidelines of the German Association for Welding and Allied Processes (DVS) with the aim of improving competitiveness and facilitating trade with other countries. "Linking with business and with the local chamber of industry and commerce is an attempt to get students on to the labour market more rapidly and to train existing personnel," explains Schmidt.

The project is the result of intensive local networking which was initiated by the Chamber of Crafts and Trades project coordinator Franc Musolli.

The Catholic Church, which operates the school in Rrëshen, heard about the activities in Kosovo and entered into dialogue with the Chamber of Crafts and Trades. This was followed by a period of getting to know each other involving mutual visits. Following a project identification assignment in Albania, the vocational education and training partnership was given the go ahead just a few months before the coronavirus pandemic.

The partnership is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development via sequa gGmbH, a German non-profit development organisation operating worldwide. While the impacts of the coronavirus posed challenges to project managers right at the start, these were overcome by making use of digital alternatives.

For example, a virtual workshop analysis enabled trainers at the Dortmund Chamber of Crafts and Trades to conduct an initial analysis of inventory. This involved people on site walking through the workshops with their smartphones or iPads during the video conference.

This analysis was used to create procurement lists and arrange for installation and fitting so that everything could get going once the coronavirus pandemic had died down. Older equipment from the welding course sites in Dortmund which had been replaced by funded new equipment was spruced up and sent over to the partner vocational school for the price of the residual value paid for via the project budget.

Other workshops were also equipped to deliver course content with the aid of funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Online seminars and virtual training courses were run in the trades referred to above. "So far over 150 individuals have attended the train-the-trainer courses," explains Schmidt in summary.

Vocational education and training partnerships generally run for two phases, each lasting three years. The project is currently still in the initial main phase and is due to run until 12/2022. Once infection rates have fallen further, short-term experts will visit the school to organise technical training and training on teaching methodology, and to established new seminar offers to help the region achieve economic success.

Source: hwk-do.de (website of the chamber of skilled crafts in Dortmund), revised by iMOVE, October 2021