For young adults, who are not able to participate in formal schooling, we offer vocational training opportunities. Currently, there are 39 trainees learning a variety of job skills including: sewing, cloth dyeing, hair design, woodworking, motorcycle repair, and construction. Each trainee is matched with a business in the closest city, Tamale. Most trainees study and work as apprentices for two years. Learning progress is assessed through interviews of both the trainee and the local business owner. Additionally, families and trainees meet with the project coordinator to ensure that everyone is committed to and benefitting from the program. Engage Globally provides training fees, averaging $600 per year, and required supplies such as tools for each trade. In some cases, we also provide funding for transportation and a daily meal. This project contributes to Engage Globally's larger focus on gender equity. Two-thirds of the trainees are young women, which helps increase economic opportunities and reduce gender inequalities.
Small business development
The first trainees participated in two year seamstress preparation programs. Upon graduation, the three young women were given a grant to open their own seamstress shop. Community members volunteered to construct the shop. This was the first formal woman owned business in our partner villages. Today, the seamstress shop co-owners are training new vocational students to become seamstresses. Other graduates have also begun to open their own businesses including bicycle repair and smock making.
Vocational graduates support our programs
Vocational graduates support our other programs in a variety of ways. For example, the seamstresses, described above, sew all of our early childhood education uniforms. Bicycles, which are used by students in our scholarship program, are maintained and repaired by a vocational graduate who has opened his own local shop. A trainee who will graduate this spring is constructing stools for outdoor classrooms for each of our school gardens. Other graduates help with school construction and upkeep as well as new trainee placement and mentoring. When possible, we also contract with local businesses that train these vocational students. For example, a local business that trains vocational students in woodworking also produces all of the school desks for our early childhood learning centers.