In Burkina Faso, the main sectors of the economy -- agriculture, animal husbandry and crafts – are short of qualified workers. Each year hundreds of thousands of young people enter the labour market with no qualifications, swelling the ranks of those old enough to work yet who can rarely find a job because of their lack of preparation. As a result, more and more young people are leaving rural areas for the new urban centres. This lack of access to training and employment leads to social tension, not only among the young but among the population as a whole.
Facilitating access to vocational training
A vocational training programme supported by Switzerland offers training tailored to the needs of, and accessible to, both adults and youths in the five regions of Burkina Faso. Most of the young people left school early and are thus lacking in education. By learning a trade, acquiring technical skills and developing professional abilities, young people and adults will have a better chance of finding decent work and escaping the poverty trap. They will also be less tempted by the new urban agglomerations.
Facilitating dual apprenticeships
Dual apprenticeships, which can help young people gain a foothold in the labour market, are one of the tools of this programme. They combine on-the-job training with formal schooling: theoretical and practical knowledge acquired in a workshop or firm is developed further at a vocational training centre.
Based on the Swiss model, this system has the advantage of meeting the needs of both unemployed youths and the local economy. It gives young people a foot in the labour market as they learn appropriate skills. At the same time, the various sectors of the economy are able to call upon a better trained and qualified workforce.
Diversification of training opportunities
The main beneficiary of the programme is the crafts sector. Between 2006 and 2012, more than 25,000 trainees were able to increase their earnings by about 40% thanks to skills they acquired through the programme. More than 1000 enrolled, one third of them female, and learned a trade, mainly as mechanics, carpenters, welders, dressmakers, hairdressers or weavers.
Even so, training opportunities remain insufficient. In a country where 80% of the population live in rural areas, not enough has been done to promote agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry. The programme’s objective is to train 500 trainers of both sexes who will then be farmed out to pass on their know-how and skills so that by 2016 there will be an estimated 50,000 beneficiaries, half of them female.
Mobilising socio-professional organisations and communities
Among the many local and national actors involved in defining, adapting and implementing the training, a key role is played by socio-professional organisations as well as supporting institutions and communities. Experience has shown just how indispensible close collaboration between these various bodies is, and the importance of its further development. Being well integrated in the local framework, they are close to the population and better able to see its needs. These organisations are able to call on NGOs like Swisscontact for support in the development of training systems and their content.
An innovative partnership
The partnership with the Applied Sciences and Technology Research Institute is destined to play a pivotal role. Actively involved in the innovation and development of technologies using local resources, the Institute will enable rural Burkina Faso to benefit from research into product transformation and the mechanisation of agriculture.