Supporting more young people into work

We are delighted to welcome 46 young trainees who started their Fast Track bricklaying training in March. These 11 women and 35 men will spend 10 weeks at our new training centre, our Centre for Excellence, in Lusaka.

Until 2017, our training was delivered exclusively through our community building projects. Although very effective, it limited the number of trainees we can support to between 50 – 80 each year.

Our community projects remain at the heart of what we do, but we also want to increase the number of young, unemployed people we can train. A Build It graduate could increase their earnings by up to £18,000 over 20 years if they do well. In 2014 average earnings in Zambia were £1,040 p.a, although the majority of the population earned considerably less.

By 2021 we aim to train 500% more young builders; that’s 460 young people per year, five times the number we trained in 2016.

To help us achieve this, we are building our Centre for Excellence and we have developed a “Fast Track” approach that we piloted in 2017. This involves:

  • Trainees completing our Life Skills training module at our Centre for Excellence
  • 10 weeks of technical training is delivered at the centre with plenty of practise time
  • Trainees undertake paid work placement with a local building firm rather than on one of our community builds

With a large number of local construction companies desperately in need of skilled workers and our young trainees keen to find employment, there is huge potential to maximise this pathway. This is akin to ‘apprenticeships’ in the UK which don’t exist in Zambia.

In 2017 we trained 68 Fast Track bricklaying trainees, 20 Fast Track painting trainees and 20 Fast Track roof carpentry trainees. Over 75% of Fast Track bricklaying trainees completed their minimum three month placement working for 13 different companies.

We are encouraged by this and indications that many of these employers will take on further trainees in 2018. We continue to evaluate our work around trainee placements, in particular looking at:

  • Identifying employers who support young people and skills development, and are not just interested in ‘cheap’ labour
  • The timing of placements, with fewer work opportunities in December – March due to the rainy season
  • Difficulties placing our female trainees; we continue to engage relevant stakeholders to build confidence in and support for female trainees in the construction industry

Placements not only provide real work experience and new contacts for trainees, but also help to foster positive relationships with local contractors as we look to make wider changes to the local construction sector. This includes encouraging more employers to invest in training and ensuring better health and safety conditions for employees.