Nepal is a young country, with half of its population under 25 years old. Of its 30 million inhabitants, 40% are not more than 18 years old. In a country where nearly 70% of the economically active population works in the informal sector, for young people, finding a stable job is a real challenge. This is especially true after two years of Covid. This reality is even more striking for young girls, as well as for young people from lower castes and socially disadvantaged groups.
Among the various programs introduced to facilitate access to employment, the dual VET (Vocational Education and Training) system is rather innovative. It combines classwork with work experience as an apprentice in the private sector, a relatively new concept in Nepal. "In Nepal, there are enough training institutes that provide training to young people, explains Rekha Uprety, coordinator of Helvetas, the NGO in charge of technical support*. "But many industries complain that they cannot find quality technical human resources. The program takes care of bringing them together so that they can collaborate, in a win-win situation."
In concrete terms, students, mainly from grades 9 and 10, of all ages, can apply to join the project. Once selected, they follow a two-year program: for 19.5 months the apprentices go to industry, the rest of the time to school. The school provides the technical education, the industries allow the students to gain real field experience. In the industries they not only learn technical skills but also are confronted with different production processes, other technical professions, etc. The sectors concerned are plumbing, electricity, mechanics, electronics, but also hospitality.
“Today I am proud of myself for working so hard in a hotel.
I know that if I had given up, I would just be at home, without any prospects.”
Anjali Raut, 20, lives in Sauhara, this tourist town in Chitwan, close to the National Park. If the main street of the city is lined with hotels, restaurants and souvenir stores, her house is more remote, on the edge of the fields. A small house with just a large main room that serves as a bedroom, kitchen and dressing room for the whole family. Anjali also parks her bike there.
She shares the big room with her parents, brother and sister. Her second brother is married and no longer lives with them. Her father is a farmer but he works in other people's land, when there is enough work. « We have no land of our own, laments Anjali. Often my father stays at home because he has no job. My mother is a housewife but she is already quite old, so she doesn't work much. We have many economic problems really. »
Anjali's days are long, and start at 5am. After washing up, she cleans the house, does the dishes. Sometimes she also cooks. Around 6 o'clock she gets on her bike and goes to school. She is studying at the Shree Bachhauli Secondary School, 1st bachelor. She was a student in this school when the apprenticeship programme was born. "I see my future as a cook, here or abroad. When the teachers told us about this program, I immediately applied. And I was selected from 65 applicants."
Since then, her day is divided between school and the hotel where she was hired as an apprentice. When she has to go to school, as at the end of this year, exam period, she joins the hotel at lunch time. She works there until early evening, sometimes a little later. Back home, she does her homework but also takes care of her mother.
Working on the ground in a hotel was not easy at first, she admits. "The first days I didn't like working in this hotel. We had a lot of work to do and we had to stand all day. I wanted to give up. But with a friend, we pulled ourselves together and decided to bite the bullet and keep going, right to the end. I know I have to work hard because I won't get another opportunity. It's now or never! » And Anjali also appreciates the fact that she doesn't have to pay to benefit from this learning. "Today I am proud of myself for working so hard in the different departments. I know that if I had given up, I would just be at home. »
It's a gruelling day, but she enjoys it. "I'm happy with my current life. Probably the hotel will employ me when I finish my apprenticeship, although I have no idea what the salary will be. What I want above all is to become independent, to be an autonomous woman and to have a real future ahead of me. »
Hope for sustainable employment
Their names are Manish, Nisha, Sibendra, Prem, Aarati, Dipa,... They are between 17 and 24 years old and are in polytechnic, engineering, mechanical and other hotel management schools. All of them benefit from the Dual VET program. Some of them are also older, have a job or have just returned from abroad. The program also includes a special branch, a CCTV training for volunteer "students". Among them are many returnee migrants.
* This project, Enhanced Skills for Sustainable and Rewarding Employment (ENSSURE), is a Swiss Development Cooperation project implemented by the CTEVT (Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training) with technical assistance from Helvetas.