Striving for excellence: Endorsement by international awarding organisation NOCN

Build It has been awarded centre approved status by NOCN for the quality and excellence of its construction skills training programme in Zambia.

A progressive vocational skills charity and social enterprise, the National Open College Network Group (NOCN) has been at the forefront of skills development and professional accreditation for over thirty years.

Now active in other ten countries, the group and its partners work with unemployed and underemployed job-seekers to help them develop certified and internationally recognised skills.

In practice, this means that successful Build It trainees will earn qualifications that are not just locally recognised, but that are in line with international construction standards. This will help them carve out a pathway to sustainable employment, raising living standards for themselves and their families.

Left to right: Stephen Ram Kissun (Head of International Business Development & Marketing, NOCN), Andrew Jowett (CEO, Build It International), Graham Hasting-Evans (Group Managing Director, NOCN) and Ralph Need (Quality Assurance, Compliance & Programme Development Consultant)

Creating opportunities through skills training, work experience and community building projects

Landlocked in the centre of southern Africa, Zambia has a high level of inequality, with around 60% of its population earning less than the international poverty line of $1.90 per day (World Bank).

Worldwide, progress in alleviating poverty and in reducing unemployment is skewed by poor quality jobs and dramatically differing vocational and professional standards.

Indeed, according to the International Labour Organisation, poor working conditions are currently the main global employment challenge. Many people working in the construction industry in Zambia are without official qualifications, limiting their earning potential as well as increasing the risk of unsafe working conditions.

Build It’s Training into Work programme provides high quality, entry-level skills training to young men and women. Aspiring to not only improve access to jobs but to ensure quality and sustained employment – as set out in the UN’s SDG 8 to Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all – Build It has refined its approach over the last decade.

Working to fill the skills and infrastructure gaps in the local construction sector, by the end of the year Build It will have trained over 1,000 young people to date in essential building skills.

Community-based trainees have helped Build It complete 44 build projects, including schools and health clinics. Many have gone on to set up their own businesses and work on commercial contacts. The ripple effect positively impacts an estimated 300,000 people but the need is still great.

Quality and excellence in skills training

Working alongside local employers to identify the specific skills required for local building methods and material choices, Build It has developed training courses in Brick and Blocklaying, Rough Carpentry, Painting and Plastering & Rendering. Matching the content of the training programmes to the tasks demanded by the labour market will help ensure better job security and income stability for graduates.

Guided by Ralph Need, an experienced Quality Assurance, Compliance & Programme Development Consultant, the formal endorsement of all four courses by NOCN complements and builds on work with the Zambian awarding organisation TEVETA (Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training).

An exciting aspect to this collaboration is the element of skills sharing, with lessons learnt globally distilled into the Zambian context so Build It trainers can continue to make refinements based on international best practice. If successful trainees are to remain professional relevant, their training must reflect the innovations of the ever-changing construction industry.

Building brighter futures

Worldwide, our prospects and even our identities are in part defined by our education, training and employment. Quality vocational training culminates in creative, versatile and skilled trades people who are readily employed, alleviating the effects of enduring poverty whilst making positive and valuable contribution to wider improvements across the construction sector.

Ultimately, the NOCN seal of approval will help ensure that Build It graduates are ready to build a brighter future for themselves, their families and communities.