Ethiopia: Promoting sustainable livelihoods through quality vocational training
22 March 2019

Trainees during a tailoring practical session at the Mary Help College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Addis Ababa - The JRS Refugee Community Center (RCC) is a rare sanctuary for urban refugees and asylum seekers right in the heart of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa.  The center offers a wide range of services including basic needs and psychosocial support, educational and recreational facilities, a day care where mothers can leave their young children while participating in other activities, and a host of technical and vocational trainings.

Refugees arriving in the city find themselves in a precarious environment and face tall obstacles to overcome in order to survive. Job opportunities are few and far between and when they can be found they are often hazardous and poorly paid, making it extremely difficult for most refugees to support themselves. The situation is compounded by a lack of clear legal pathways to sustainable livelihoods. The new refugee bill that was recently approved by parliament grants refugees more rights include the rights to work and free movement. However, these provisions will take time to be implemented and when that happens, refugees will still have to face stiff competition from locals in a crowded market.

JRS/RCC tailoring trainees during a practical session on pattern making at the Mary Help College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia(JRS)

JRS RCC vocational training program relies on funds provided by Kindermissionswerk in Germany. The funds were raised by children towards supporting vulnerable young children through skills training.

JRS Ethiopia has invested in vocational trainings as a means to equip refugees with the skills they need to overcome these challenges and achieve economic autonomy through self-employment. JRS designs its training programs in line with the government standards for technical vocational education and training (TVET) whose goal is to ensure the courses are relevant and meet market demands. In order to meet this requirement, an approach called Outcome Based Training (OBT) is used which is based on competency identification and assessment. Occupational competency assessment (conducted at Centers of Competence /CoC) has currently become instrumental in measuring how much the skills acquired correspond to the job performed in the work place.

JRS RCC partners with different colleges and institutions to offer a range of training courses in areas such as Food Preparation, Tailoring, Office Machine and Mobile Maintenance, A+ Level Computer Maintenance, as well as Automotive and Welding. Graduates of these courses have the possibility to sit for the National Standard Qualification Assessment to earn a government recognized certification.

JRS/RCC Dress Making and Fashion Design trainees following their graduation (JRS)

One of these partner institution is the Mary Help College run by Salesian Sisters where, out of 20 tailoring trainees in 2018, 17 successfully passed their competency assessment. The course specializes in Dress Making and Fashion Design. Overall, the trainees expressed satisfaction with their experience at the college, with one of graduates saying, “Mary Help instructors and the community were so kind to us, considerate and understanding of the challenges that we face as refugees.” She attributed her success to the excellent training team at Mary Help and the support of JRS/RCC without which she could not afford the training fees.

Press Contact Information
Endashaw Debrework SJ
+254 20 3874152