Credit:PNUD ANGOLA/Paulo Alcocer

“I used to sell tomatoes in the morning, at the Mutondo street market, to help my family, and in the afternoon I went to school,” said Cecília Augusto, 25. She was forced to speak louder than usual because in the room all you could hear was the sound of sewing machines and people talking happily. That is because now, Cecília is doing a professional internship in sewing, after finishing a training at the National Institute of Employment and Professional Training (INEFOP) in the province of Huíla.

Despite being already in the 2nd year of the Geology course in university, Cecília felt “that it was not enough to have an academic training, without the aid of a professional training”, so she sought INEFOP. There, she was one of 50 young people selected to undertake a professional internship, under the “Saber Fazer” project, supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Cecília Augusto. Credit: PNUD ANGOLA/Paulo Alcocer

"I chose sewing and so far Im loving it," explained the young woman. This way it will be "easier for me to create my own job and employ myself instead of waitting for public tender procedures or another profession".

The “Saber Fazer” project aims to contribute to the professionalization and entrepreneurship in local communities, to enhance local development and combat high unemployment among young people.

It was a pioneering experience in the country, which UNDP wants to repeat soon, to give more opportunities to the angolan youth.

Clothes, shoes, backpacks, accessories and even decoration. “The best part is that we create and learn every day and love the work,” said Cecília. “Based on these practices, I can create my own business”.

Young people make up the majority of the Angolan population and are the most affected by unemployment. According to the Employment Survey of the National Statistics Institute (INE), the unemployment rate of people aged 15 to 24 was 57.8% in the first quarter of 2020. In other words, one in two young Angolans is unemployed.

Félix Celestino. Credit: PNUD ANGOLA/Paulo Alcocer

Félix Celestino was in this situation, until he chose to take a training course and ended up in one of the professional internships of the “Saber Fazer” project. He chose the civil construction metalworking internship, because he always liked to “create new parts” and is completely at ease with the machines.

There, he has learned to make windows, bars, doors and gates, but Félix's imagination goes further. “With the metalwork I can create anything that comes to my mind. Just use my imagination and put it into practice, ”said the young man. “It is necessary to use intelligence to form these pieces. See the calculations and the angles”, he continued.

For Félix, the future is almost certain. During the internship, he is saving money and “to later set up his own metalwork shop, with other young people and friends. “I have even already chosen the name,” he said, smiling. "It will be Serralharia Novo Mundo" [New World Shop].

In the professional internship, the trainees have a close relationship with the trainers and an openness to ask any questions. Young people like the environment and say they are better prepared for the job market, specially in a difficult economic contexto such as the angolan one.

“I learned how to work and become a professional,” said Félix. "I also learned how to be punctual, respectful, humble, to have creativity and focus on what is being done", added Cecília.

Lukeba Xávier. Credit: PNUD ANGOLA/Paulo Alcocer

For Lukeba Xavier, 22, the best part of the professional internship is “putting the whole theory into practice”. He chose mechanics and is loving “assembling and disassembling engines, gearboxes, power transmission and learning to detect car breakdowns”.

The young man left the province of Cabinda, in the north of the country, for Huíla to take the training at INEFOP and now, in his professional internship, says that "it is worth being so far from home".

In Cabinda, “I worked in my father's little grocery store, but I realized that commerce was not for me and that I preferred mechanics”, said Lukeba. When he finishes the internship, I plans to go home and “open a workshop, to employ more young people who at the moment have nothing to do”.

"If all the young people went through a professional internship it would be great," added Lukeba, in the middle of the workshop where he feels so comfortable. “They take courses and courses and then they have nothing to do and nowhere to go. They just stay at home”.

Cecília Jacinto&Mariana Catumbela. Credit: PNUD ANGOLA/Paulo Alcocer

Mariana Catumbela is of the same opinion. At the age of 24, she chose to do the professional sewing internship because she already knew how to do a few things. "My grandfather was a seamstress so I already liked sewing a lot," she explained.

Before, she also worked in the family’s grocery store in the morning and in the afternoon went to school. She is still finishing 11th class, but now she only thinks about fulfilling her “dream of opening a clothing studio”.

"Now I will do what I want to do”, said Mariana, and "try to give jobs to others". The young woman knows that she will have to finish 12th class first, but says that she already feels like an authentic professional and that she is ready for the future.

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