World Youth Skills Day, 15 July 2018

Ruth Kampangele is now a tiler. She has built a new house for her grandparents.

Build It builds skilled construction workers out of unemployed young men and women in Zambia, women like Ruth so they can earn a living and provide for their families.

Ruth had originally thought about becoming an accountant. It was Ruth’s grandfather Brasford Nguluwe who suggested that she enrol with Build It on our Training into Work programme.

There are many young people in Zambia desperate for the chance to work and enjoy a brighter future, but thousands across the country are denied access to basic schooling or training. Without skills and qualifications their prospects are limited. World Youth Skills Day on 15 June 2018 is a sombre reminder that “… rising youth unemployment is one of the most significant problems facing economies and societies in today’s world” (UN, 2018).

Zambia should be a land of golden opportunity for aspiring builders and engineers; for young people who can make their living by building and creating facilities that their communities so desperately need. However the Zambian construction sector struggles to recruit the 17,000 new workers that it needs each year, with very few school leavers given the opportunity to gain the skills needed.

Build It’s ambition is to change the training landscape in Zambia and support thousands of unemployed young people with new skills and new opportunities.

“It was hard at first,” Ruth recollects. “I didn’t even know how to use a spirit level or a trowel.” She remembers her grandfather encouraging her to stick with it. Before long, Ruth started to enjoy the work that, to her, was so complicated in the beginning.

After her training, Ruth entered a national bricklaying competition and then opportunity to compete in the 2017 World Skills Programme, held in Abu Dhabi. “Even though I didn’t win, I learnt so much and loved traveling to Abu Dhabi”, Ruth says with great enthusiasm, and today mentions her Abu Dhabi experience to impress new clients.

In between her tiling jobs, Ruth and Brasford have built a house for their family in Chitukuko. “We all used to sleep in one room, and it was so uncomfortable,” Brasford recalls. “We are so proud that our granddaughter built this house for us.”

“I’m thinking of doing a degree in Construction Management next year,” says Ruth. “I don’t regret not becoming an accountant, not at all,” she insists. “I love the work I’m doing now, and I want to thank Build It. Without them and my grandfather, I wouldn’t have found my passion for building.”

Above: Ruth Kampangele (Lusaka, Zambia) Top feature photo: Ruth with her grandparents Brasford and Theresa Nguluwe (Chitukuko, Zambia) Both photographs are by Jennifer Bruce for Communication for Development Ltd