[Saturday, January 9]
Canadian Lutheran World Relief Global Encounter participants had a unique opportunity to view the work of the Lutheran World Federation Vocational Training Program (VTP) first hand.
We walked through the various training shops and saw the tremendous skill young Palestinians were developing in areas of metalwork, woodwork, auto mechanics, sheet metal, plumbing and heating, and telecommunications. We learned of the unique strategy of VTP to train young people between the ages of 14 and 18 in vocational areas which match employer demand. This allows the program to achieve employment rates among graduates which are the highest of all degree programs nationally; 73% of VTP graduates were employed or self-employed within six-months of graduation and 96% were actively engaged in the work force or seeking work compared to 44.7% of youth in the same age group nationally.
The VTP’s efforts to increase the enrollment of female trainees has been quite successful in recent years. The number of females participating has doubled with many young women graduating in the telecommunications field. Training leaders say these young women are terrific role models in their communities and are encouraging others to consider vocational training.
Six years ago a training center was established in Ramallah and it has graduated 220 students through a unique apprenticeship training course that provides a combination of classroom instruction and training directly on the shop floor of an industrial site. These young Palestinians are finding meaningful employment and driving economic growth in their own communities.
Canadian Lutheran World Relief provides modest support to these training programs. “We definitely want to do more,” said CLWR Executive Director Bob Granke. The annual cost to support a student with tuition, books, uniform and transportation is about $800. “This is the kind of program which many Canadians would feel makes good sense and I’m sure more support will be available as we engage people in this terrific story of success,” he said.