Young people gain skills, knowledge and attitude through vocational training

Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion
Mrs. Regula Chavez-Malgiaritta, Swisscontact Country Director in Mozambique who also doubles up as the Skills to Build Project Manager, gives us some insights on a skills development project currently being implemented in Maputo City and Province. The Skills to Build project is financed by the Christa Foundation among other donors. As part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, it is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

Swisscontact is an independent non-profit organisation that promotes sustainable economic growth in developing and emerging economies. Founded in 1959, we work exclusively in international cooperation and development, offering disadvantaged populations a chance to improve their lives on their initiative. We implement our own projects along with other mandated ones.

In Mozambique, Swisscontact works to promote inclusive economic, social and ecological development by supporting people in their efforts to integrate into the local economy. We improve their skills to enhance their employability and create a good foundation for entrepreneurship. Swisscontact plays a facilitatory role in its project implementations and supports the creation of an entrepreneurial environment with access to information, skills and markets. This is how we help create opportunities and improve the conditions for employment and income generation. 

1.    What is the Skills to Build project about?

The Skills to Build project was launched as a pilot in 2017 to create mechanisms and partnerships that promote quality competency-based vocational training for young people in the construction sector. The current second phase (2021-2024) aims to contribute and strengthen the approach within the present vocational training system by incorporating specific competency-based curricula. The target beneficiaries include young adults who have been excluded from the formal education system and uncertified adults currently engaged in the formal or informal labour markets.

Skills to Build ultimately seeks to support construction workers and boost their self-employment by providing professional guidance and financial support for entrepreneurship. The project advocates for co-responsibility between the public and private actors to promote innovative technical training that responds to the market demand.

2.    Why is the project being implemented?

The project addresses vocational training gaps in the construction sector and has a high potential to reduce poverty and contribute effectively to sustainable development and inclusive growth. Our proposition does not only offer market-oriented technical skills training but also improves the trainees’ employment opportunities and chances of succeeding at entrepreneurship.

In Mozambique, 85% of the population live in informal settings and young people constitute more than half of the economically active population. However, many face challenges accessing jobs due to underqualification. The country records high numbers of unemployed youth (approximately 500,000 annually) who seek to enter the labour market. The Skills to Build project approach is relevant, adequate and provides a timely response to the socio-economic reality on the ground.

Linking the beneficiaries to the private sector is key in helping the economy diversify and reduces exposure to risky foreign markets and commodity price fluctuations. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), which absorb two-thirds of employees in developing economies, contribute to poverty alleviation by providing opportunities that ensure good and sustainable standards of living for their employees and consequently their families.

3.    What is unique about the Skills to Build project if compared to other skills development projects being implemented in Mozambique?

By ensuring high quality training, the Skills to Build project in its core seeks to sustainably reduce skills gaps in the construction sector and increase the sector’s productivity and competitiveness as well as the quality of construction outputs. Furthermore, personal factors are fostered, such as employability skills (e.g. proactivity, awareness and understanding of one’s actions and consequences) or active job search skills (e.g. ability to complete CVs, interview/presentation techniques). By fostering certification for young adults, the project also aims at increasing their income and to improve the sustainability of the workforce. Thanks to close collaboration with private sector employers, long-term employment opportunities can be created.

Just as importantly, the project contributes to sustainable systemic change on the one hand through the strengthening of the national vocational training system, which, in turn, influences vocational training legislation and policies. On the other hand, by supporting the training centres in increasing their capacities, the project strengthens the sustainability of quality vocational training.

4.    What do the target beneficiaries get out of the Skills to Build project?

The young adults graduate from the training centres with decent foundations in vocational competencies for the construction sector. Most importantly, they attain certification, employability and active job search skills which simplifies their market absorption and increases their chances of earning higher incomes.

Often, the graduates attest to being considered for more job opportunities. The clients consider their applications as they have proof that they attended credible training. With proper salary negotiations, the beneficiaries can support themselves and their families. Certification also guarantees an increased income for those who had already been engaged in construction workshops without proper educational qualifications.

5.    Has Swisscontact influenced any major processes in the education sector in Mozambique?

Yes. The Skills to Build project continues to support training centres in their implementation of the modular structure based on the new national curriculum. Additionally, together with the National Authority for Professional Education (ANEP), Swisscontact is currently executing a pilot program for the Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RCA) within which uncertified workers with existing competencies will be assessed and certified. As such, it follows the lead of many countries that noticed the importance of recognizing existing competencies. The formal implementation of the RCA program is expected to begin later this year and hoped to have an impact at the national level.

6.    Who are the main project partners?

The Skills to Build project is built on close collaborations with various public and private stakeholders. We believe in building and strengthening solid partnerships to achieve the best possible and most sustainable outcomes that support young adults and the TVET sector.

At the national level, one of our critical partners is the National Authority for Professional Education (ANEP). Our collaboration aims to guarantee alignment with the authorities and validates many of our processes and outputs. Skills to Build also works closely with public training centres like the Institute for Vocational Training and Labour Studies (IFPELAC), Public Works Training Centre, Water and Sanitation Training Centre, Metalomechanic Training Centre and the Roads Training Centre. We support them in implementing the curricula and ensure quality training.

We have also partnered with two universities i.e., the Pedagogical University (UP) and Don Bosco Higher Institute (ISDB) to ensure skilled and qualified trainers for the training centres.

7.   Was there any impact achieved in the first phase of project implementation?

Yes. Two impact studies revealed promising results for young adults in Maputo City and Province. Out of 1,150 graduates, two thirds (67%) found jobs through friends, family, and acquaintances, 17% are now active entrepreneurs. Also, more than half (53%) of the trained young people experienced an annual income increase of approximately US$ 950.

Another significant result was the increased capacity of trainers attached to the different public training centres who used their newly acquired skills to teach and implement the new national curriculum.

Additionally, the political dialogue with ANEP resulted in the development of a legal framework for modular vocational training and the certification of 35 trainers (4 women) in pedagogical competencies. 12 certified trainers (3 women) were also trained in proper skill assessments.

8.    What does the project hope to achieve in phase 2 i.e., 2021 – 2024?

Skills to Build is targeting 4,500 unemployed vulnerable adolescents (30% women) interested in working in the construction industry. We are also targeting 500 uncertified active workers (workshop owners and workers employed by construction companies; 10% women). Together with the National Authority for Professional Education (ANEP) and the training centres, we are implementing the RCA program to assess and certify these unaccredited active workers based on their prior existing competencies. That’s not all. 360 unemployed youth (30% women) will be targeted for entrepreneurship training after they undergo the technical training.  Young people interested in starting their businesses will not only go through entrepreneurship classes but also receive knowledge on how to access finance.

9.    The COVID-19 pandemic affected the whole education sector. Did the Skills to Build project deploy any mitigation strategies to encourage continued learning?

Unfortunately, the pandemic affected vocational training between March and August 2020. The training centres were closed and once they resumed operations, the student count decreased. During this time, Skills to Build ensured continuous learning opportunities by supporting the training centres in conducting courses using mobile classes. These classes involved customised vehicles fully loaded with training equipment rotating around different remote locations. Several courses were organized, and young people had an opportunity to learn despite the uncertainties brought by the pandemic. All mobile sessions adapted protection measures to reduce the risk of infections. The trainers also took advantage of this ‘class-free period’ and participated in the training courses that covered psycho-pedagogical areas and skill assessments. We hope to have offered the young people support during this difficult time and are happy to see the training centres filled with trainees again.


The project 'Skills to Build' facilitates a private-public, modular technical skills training and certification for un-/employed, vulnerable youth and existing low-skilled workers and shop owners to create employment opportunities. For this phase (2021-2024), training programmes include masonry, plumbing, sewage, water and sanitation, electricity, painting, tiling, safety, and environment & health, among others.