Vocational Training Centers in SyriaThe ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in numerous challenges, including economic devastation and the displacement of millions. However, amid these trials, vocational training centers are making a significant impact by equipping young Syrians with practical skills that enhance their employability and contribute to the broader goal of reducing global poverty.

The Youth Crisis in Syria

The Syrian conflict, now spanning over a decade, has exacted a heavy toll on the country’s youth. A generation has grown up amid violence and displacement, facing a bleak future marred by lack of education, employment opportunities and prospects for advancement. The youth of Syria bear the brunt of this crisis, with many facing economic vulnerability and the risk of being trapped in a cycle of poverty. 

Empowerment Through Vocational Training Centers

Vocational training centers in Syria have emerged as a transformative solution to the challenges faced by Syrian youth. These centers offer comprehensive training programs in a variety of fields, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, computer programming and more. By providing practical skills, these centers enable young Syrians to acquire expertise that is in demand both within and beyond their communities. In 2018 alone, over 3,200 children and adolescents benefitted from a UNICEF-sponsored program. 

One of the key advantages of vocational training centers is their ability to equip youth with skills that directly align with local job markets. As a result, graduates are not only better positioned to secure gainful employment but also contribute to their local economies. This localized approach helps break the cycle of poverty by fostering self-sufficiency and economic stability within communities.

Breaking Down Barriers

These centers do more than just impart skills; they break down barriers that hinder youth empowerment. Many of the young people in Syria have been deprived of traditional education due to conflict. Vocational training offers them an alternative pathway to self-improvement and economic independence. Additionally, these centers often incorporate life skills training, which equips participants with valuable skills such as communication, problem-solving and teamwork — skills that are essential for success in any field.

Furthermore, vocational training centers promote gender equality by welcoming both male and female participants. In a region where gender disparities persist, these centers provide a platform for women to access education and skills training that were once out of reach. By empowering women through vocational training, these centers contribute to a more inclusive society and economy.

Fighting Global Poverty

The impact of vocational training centers in Syria extends beyond its borders. By investing in skills development, these centers indirectly contribute to the fight against global poverty. Equipped with skills that are in demand internationally, graduates of these centers are better positioned to secure jobs not only within Syria but also in neighboring countries and beyond. This reduces the burden on already strained host countries and helps create a more stable economic environment for the region.

Moreover, the concept of vocational training centers can be replicated in other conflict-affected regions or areas with high levels of poverty. The success of these centers serves as a model for how targeted skill development initiatives can lead to self-sufficiency and economic growth, even in the most challenging circumstances. 

– Valentin Lyazov
Photo: Flickr

Vocational Education Training in IndiaVocational education training in India is different from formal education in some ways. It is “skill-based,” as it involves learning real-life expertise. This type of training or education prepares individuals for specific skills involving crafts, trade and other practical activities.  Vocational training can qualify as “teaching procedural knowledge” as it teaches technical skills and abilities compared to formal education.

Why is Vocational Education Training Important?

Many skills that individuals need to compete in the modern work industry are technical and vocational abilities. Vocational skills could be especially impactful in impoverished communities, offering a more affordable or cost-efficient path to education. Specifically, individuals do not need to attend college to obtain vocational skills. In fact, vocational training is quite accessible in most local settings. The accessibility and affordability make it especially important, as it could lead to a path of stable income for participants.

As of April 2023, India’s unemployment rate went up to 8.11%, which considering the country’s high population, results in many Indians having no jobs. With vocational education in India, there is a potential to reduce the unemployment rate. Moreover, more Indians could receive not just access to employment, but also skills that could increase their chance of remaining employed.

History of Vocational Education Training in India 

In 1950, India established Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to provide vocational training at full capacity. After this establishment, more than 13,000 ITIs opened across the country. The Standing Committee on Labour noted that around 64% of trainees in ITIs were employed, which is significant as more than 40% of individuals enrolled in ITIs are below the poverty line. This was a significant leap of progress for India’s labor and employment rates.

STRIVE Program

The Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (STRIVE) Program is a five-year government-aided organization that aims to improve the quality of vocational education training, according to the World Bank. Specifically, STRIVE aims to improve the quality of vocational education training that is provided in ITIs and other apprenticeships in India. The program intends to increase government support, improve teaching methods and expand apprenticeships nationwide. As of 2017, STRIVE has supported 300 ITIs and 100 industrial apprenticeships nationwide.

Impact of Vocational Training on Women

In India, 30% of the population lives in extreme poverty, with women and children being “the weakest members” of Indian society. This evident gender disparity combines old Indian tradition and female access to education. While the bias against women working and gaining education is gradually subsiding, there is still room to make education more accessible for women.

By emphasizing the importance and adequately funding vocational education training, the gender disparity could decrease significantly. Not only would this allow poverty rates to decrease, but it could also provide women with the basic skills they need to make a living. For example, vocational education training in India can teach women the skills to become receptionists, carpenters, cosmetologists, clothesmakers, cooks and other positions that can provide a steady income. 

India’s labor force could experience increased productivity by significantly raising the rate of female employment, which currently stands at only 31%. Shockingly, more than 50 million women in India neither attend school nor participate in the workforce, as reported by the World Bank. Additionally, women constitute less than 9% of the enrollment in Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). Studies indicate that women are less inclined to pursue training due to concerns about family responsibilities.

Varthana’s Help

Steve Hardgrave and Brajesh Kumar Mishra founded Varthana in 2013. It is a private company that provides financial assistance to students interested in vocational education training in India. It specifically provides aid through loans. The National Skill Development Center (NDSC) partnered with Varthana to lessen the gap between low-income families and enrollment in education. While vocational training is rather accessible and does not require prior education, it can still be costly for many individuals. There are many that avoid vocational training because of financial obligations. With Varthana’s help, vocational education can be even more accessible with supplied funds and support. 

Particularly, Varthana has funded approximately 4,500 private schools, providing education for more than 3 million students. Additionally, Varthana has partnered with more than 500 institutions helping fund 5,000 financially challenged students. Varthana made an inspiring and motivational goal to make education in India accessible to more than 10 million students by 2025.

Looking to the Future

In India, vocational education training holds immense potential to address unemployment and poverty rates, providing individuals with practical skills that can lead to stable employment. Initiatives like the STRIVE program and organizations like Varthana are actively working to improve the quality and accessibility of vocational training across the country, benefiting both men and women. By expanding vocational education opportunities and reducing financial barriers, India can empower its workforce and uplift communities, ultimately fostering economic growth and reducing inequality.

– Samsara Shrivastava
Photo: Unsplash