The quality of the vocational training system in Ukraine does not meet international standards. As a result, the fast-growing private sector is facing a shortage of skilled labour in several areas, at a time when it must compete on the European market and comply with European standards.
A number of companies have voiced complaints about a lack of qualified staff. To make up for this shortfall, some of them organise their own training programmes for new employees. A case in point is the Swiss company Geberit, European leader in the field of sanitary technology, which has been active in Ukraine for many years.
Geberit realised that its own training programme was not enough and that it was necessary to improve the quality of vocational training in the field of sanitary technology more broadly and for the longer term. Indeed, in Ukraine vocational training in this sector has become obsolete, having undergone no change or adaptation for 20 years. New European norms and standards are unknown to plumbers in Ukraine and are not taught, even though in recent years the plumbing sector has undergone significant change and there has been a complete transformation in terms of technologies used.
Geberit approached the SDC and together they developed this public-private partnership to improve vocational training in the field of sanitary engineering. The Ukrainian NGO GURT, which is responsible for the project's implementation, also brings expertise in vocational training to the project.
Six pilot schools
One of the project goals is to develop a new three-year training curriculum for plumbers which must be certified by the Ministry of Education. The new curriculum will then be introduced in six pilot vocational schools around the country, including in the east.
To do this, first training manuals and other teaching materials on modern plumbing will be produced. These will be based on the new curriculum and will also include examples from other countries. Teams of educators will then be trained and familiarised with the new standards and approaches of modern plumbing so they are able to transfer this knowledge to students.
Finally, schools will be renovated and provided with facilities and modern equipment so that students can use their practical skills. Equipment will be provided by Geberit.
Better prospects on the labour market
More generally, the project aims to ensure that after three years of training these new professionals have the skills to quickly find satisfactory employment. Currently youth unemployment is endemic throughout the Ukrainian economy.
In order for this effort to have an impact at the national level, the ultimate goal of the project is for this new type of training – certified by the Ministry of Education – to be replicated across the entire country.