The growing number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from protracted crisis situations highlights the need for durable solutions to long-term displacement situations. Instead of waiting indefinitely to return home, young people especially need opportunities to learn and find a job or start their own business.
Policy makers need to take into account the attributes and capacities that young women and men already possess as active citizens; eager to participate in society but frustrated at being excluded from decisions that affect their lives.
Of the 20.4 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, around half are under the age of 18 and around 8 million are of school age. Attending technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is an excellent way to develop skills needed in the labor market. However, young refugees, internally displaced people and their host communities often do not have access to training opportunities.
Therefore, Finn Church Aid, UNHCR, GIZ and ILO have come together to identify solutions for TVET in refugee contexts. The result is a multi-country study aimed at identifying and collecting good practices to improve access to and participation in TVET programs for refugees, IDPs and host communities. The programs are implemented by national ministries, private sector actors, development agencies and NGOs.
Read on to find out what we learned. You can find the full study here
1 Partnerships — working together, learning from evidence
This report, which is a joint work between Finn Church Aid, UNHCR, GIZ and ILO, is a good example of partnerships in the context of TVET. TVET programs tend to operate in national silos. Thus, broadening the dialogue can trigger the sharing of good practices and lessons learned among TVET actors.
TVET actors, including NGOs, need to learn from the interventions of other actors. Multi-stakeholder dialogue between funding agencies, national authorities, trade unions and chambers of commerce can broaden the role of TVET actors in programmes, integrating multiple components targeting both supply and labor market demand.
2 Inclusion of refugees and IDPs in national systems
Refugees need durable solutions. Ten years ago, many Syrian refugees were waiting to return home soon. We cannot wait with education for crises to end. Children and young people are particularly in need of education and means of subsistence. Including refugees in host country systems is important – but it also requires longer-term funding commitments from donors. Short-term funding cannot create the continuity needed in a protracted crisis.
Translate inclusive national policy documents into regulatory frameworks that recognize the status of refugees and forcibly displaced persons and enable their legal inclusion in TVET and skills recognition services and their access to the formal labor market.
We must value the socio-economic potential of refugees and displaced persons, recognize their skills and strengthen their motivation to lead a self-determined life.
3 Teacher training — there is no education without teachers
We need to value teachers – also in the humanitarian and refugee context. This means formalizing TVET teacher training and it requires investments from governments and donors.
Formal teacher training is important for the quality of TVET and the perception of the work of the TVET teacher. At Finn Church Aid, we include teacher training in our education programs, including mentoring and guidance in their own careers, as well as courses in complementary teaching skills, such as psychosocial support and student guidance. .
4 Orientation to the labor market — working with companies
Good labor market integration is crucial for quality TVET, we need to understand labor markets and work closely with the private and third sector (including trade unions) to provide education that leads to life. employment or entrepreneurship.
When designing TVET programs for refugees, there is a need for more real-time and systematic data on market developments, work permit issuance and other risk factors that may hinder access to the formal and informal labor market in vulnerable communities. TVET actors should work together to produce robust labor market assessments and share this information with refugees.
Ensure employer involvement in the design of flexible and easily scalable curricula and learning materials and encourage work-based learning programs for refugees and host communities
5 Life and basic skills + guidance and career counseling
Although market relevant, TVET must include life and civic skills such as teamwork, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, negotiation or a proactive work attitude – today also remote working skills. These skills allow adaptation to changes in the labor market.
Career guidance and counseling is proving to be the key to improving completion rates and providing effective support to TVET learners, including those who need a more individualized approach.
Standardized training for career counselors in teacher training colleges would ensure quality. Finn Church Aid has proven the concept of career guidance in programs such as Cambodia, where student guidance has led to fewer dropouts and greater progression to higher education.
6 Gender and disability inclusion – supporting those who may drop out
Students, especially those from vulnerable backgrounds, need help to stay the course. In concrete terms, this means support such as free daycare for children on site, accessibility for people with disabilities and help with transport costs to and from training centres.
To encourage women’s long-term participation, centers should provide safe transportation, safe boarding and safe and clean hygiene facilities, free dignity kits for menstruating women and promote all vocational courses for both genders .
Take disability into account: TVET institutions should respond more explicitly to the needs of people with disabilities by working more closely with other actors such as ministries of labor and specific disability commissions, and organizations of people with disabilities.
7 Recognition and accreditation — papers matter
Bringing recognition of prior learning and mutual recognition of skills and qualifications at national, regional (and global) level: this is of the utmost importance. Countries should strengthen their national systems for recognition of prior learning to ensure that the skills and qualifications people possess are recognized in national labor markets, opening up opportunities for lifelong learning and accessing formal labor markets.
FCA’s approach places a strong emphasis on the link between learning and remuneration. At the heart of this is the student’s guarantee that completion of the course will lead to a recognized certification or diploma that can be used to enter the job market. In many contexts, the formal certificate or accreditation also paves the way to universities. This therefore means the realization of both the rights to education and the right to a decent life.
8 Gateway to the labor market
We must involve the labor market, especially the private sector, in the development of study programs and employment pathways. This means organizing internships and apprenticeships that lead to jobs, as well as inviting professionals to give talks.
But it also means persuading employers and governments to recognize student skills, such as previous experience when formal credentials are lacking. This helps those with, for example, low literacy to get a foot in the door.
9 Technology, environment and innovation
The future is green and digital. TVET must recognize the changing employment environment and take this into account in the development of TVET courses. Finn Church Aid deliberately promotes ICT skills and digital professions, such as our innovative Creative Industries program, currently being piloted in Uganda and Kenya.
Greening TVET is crucial for a just transition to green markets. This means adding climate-sensitive content to programs; promote resource-efficient sectors such as renewable energy, circular economy, bioeconomy and sustainable water management; and providing refresher and advanced training in growing sustainable economies.
The author of this blog is the FCA Advocacy Officer
Download the full report here