Youth empowered, in theory and practice, for the job market
Sometimes, all that young people need to start a successful business or find a new job is a little push forward. With this in mind, the Republic of Turkey and the United Nations Program for Development partnered and created a project which gave 100 young people from the province of Huíla the opportunity to do professional internships, after completing a training at the National Institute of Employment and Professional Training (INEFOP), to add practical experience to the theoretical knowledge.
Each one of these 100 young people comes from different backgrounds and practiced some economic activity, often informally, trying to earn the daily bread and contribute to the income. Constantino Cativa, for example, before becoming a certified blacksmith by INEFOP, was a barber. That was not enough for him.
“I wanted to do something more practical, so there was a need to take a professional course at the INEFOP center”, he says, while working at the Metalangola workshop, at Grupo Unione, in Humpata. “I thought that the course [of blacksmithing] was limited and when I arrived here at the company I came to see that it is broad”, says the 22-year-old. “Here on the internship, we are learning how to make windows, doors and we already have the basis for making stoves and also some dehydrators”, he continued.
"This experience will be a good basis, because I will do everything I can to support myself and not go through many financial difficulties," said Constantino. “After finishing the internship, my plan is to have my first job”, which can mean creating my own job, “since the course also forces me to be an entrepreneur”, he says.
Vadilson Pedro, on the other hand, did not have a formal job, like many others. In Angola, one in two young people between 15 and 24 years old is unemployed, according to the 2020 Employment Survey in Angola of the National Statistics Institute (INE). To alleviate this problem, Vadilson had small businesses, such as selling perfumes, until he took a course be a waiter and bartender and an internship at pension Diocema, in Lubango. Now, he wants to combine the two experiences and start selling “cakes and pastries”.
The 22-year-old says that he could never have learned in the classroom what he learned while serving at the pension bar: “I learned to deal with colleagues from different sections, and several difficult customers, showing humility, respect and sympathy.”
“The theory is just for the classroom and the practical is reality itself”, completes Alberto Sapalo, as if he had heard what Vadilson said. Alberto already worked as a blacksmith, but “he wanted to learn more and know what it is to be a real blacksmith” so, at the age of 21, he took a course and internship. “At INEFOP, I found the right answers,” he says. Now, Alberto already knows how to make stoves, tables, beds, windows and railings and guarantees that he will use this knowledge to have some financial stability.
It was precisely the need to transmit more practical knowledge to the trainees that inspired to this initiative of professional internships, as explained by the Director of the Provincial Services of INEFOP in the province of Huíla, Alberto Bartolomeu. A diagnosis of the situation of technical and professional education in the province of Huíla, carried out by the United Nations Development Program in Angola, with support from the Mandume-Ya-Ndemufayo University and the International Labor Organization, carried out last year, revealed that “when trainees left the vocational training centers, they had a high theoretical knowledge but lacked the practical knowledge”, continued the official.
A pilot project was launched, in which 50 INEFOP students did professional internships, and the results were very positive. “Of the 50 interns, fortunately 47 were employed immediately”, by the companies where they had interned. According to Alberto Bartolomeu, the other three were not immediately hired because they could not work on Saturdays, for religious reasons, but other opportunities soon arose and these three young people already have jobs.
Looking at these results, the right attitude was only to extend the project and improve the conditions, both for young people and for companies. “We have improved the trainee's subsidy”, explained Alberto Bartolomeu. Trainees now receive a monthly amount, including the transportation allowance and insurance.
“There was also an increase, although minimal, in the value for consumables given to each company” because, due to COVID-19, many companies were unable to receive and afford interns. “Then, there was this distribution of consumables, which was a great financial cushion for these companies to be able to effectively accommodate interns”, continued Alberto Bartolomeu.
In this deal, everyone wins, guarantees the Director of the Provincial Services of INEFOP. The companies “for three months, have cheap labor and pay nothing but, in return, receive the value of the consumables and sell the product that is produced”, and “we also win because, after the coexistence for three months, and thanks to the and dedication of these interns, they end up being hired by these companies”.
The project was only possible thanks to the support and funding of the Government of Turkey and the Turkish Embassy in Angola, and under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Public Administration, Labor and Social Security, which supervises INEFOP, and UNDP in Angola, to strengthen collaboration in terms of employment and technical and professional training.
Now, “we are solving two problems: we train and we employ”, concluded Alberto Bartolomeu.
Irany Sawa, the Human Resources Director at Metalosul, in Lubango, agrees. She says that the experience with INEFOP interns was very good "not only because it did not have costs for the company", but also because "INEFOP indicates the right people for the right functions". In other words, the young man and women had already received training and “they came almost ready to complete their functions, which leveraged the department's good functioning” in a short time.
"The candidates we received from INEFOP came with a different profile and focus, because they knew they were there to take advantage of an opportunity," explained Irany. "They came with energy and dedication and we liked it," she continued. Metalosul has already hired four interns and, according to the HR manager, intends to maintain the partnership with INEFOP.
Being hired by the company where you interned is the objective of many of these youngsters, but the certificate of training at INEFOP alone and experience, already give them hope of entering the job market, in one way or another.
"If the company [where I am doing the internship] needs an employee, they can hire me and I will accept," said Geltrudes. “If they dont, I will look for a job. Since I am certified, I am competent to work in this area”, she continued, in a confident tone.
Among the interns, there are still the most ambitious, who are already dreaming of their own businesses. One of them is Alexandra Braga, 30, who took a culinary course and is doing an internship at the Lodge Obama hotel resort, in Chibia.
“I have a food truck at home and Im thinking about, when I finish my internship, start practicing making hot dogs and hamburgers to show people what I learned during that internship,” said Alexandra. She learned to make these snacks from the restaurant's cooks and now wants to teach her niece. “I have a niece that I can call to help me” working at the food truck, she said.
The Professional Training Center of Lubango strives to give a complete instruction to the more than 1000 students it receives every cycle, in courses that can last up to 6 months. However, as shown by Mizete Manuel, the practical experience is not transmitted.
The cook, who used to be a street vendor, says that on the internship she learned how to "work as a team and to work under pressure". "It is a very good thing and we leave here with a lot of work experience," said Mizete, 32.
Professional experience is something that Pedro Sapalo already had, but not in an area that he liked. The 20-year-old worked as a mototaxi driver, did some odd jobs as a photographer and ran small businesses, until he ended up doing an internship in painting, in the civil construction area, at the company NAP Service.
Pedro, in fact, is “following the family business”, as the popular saying goes, because his father is also a painter. The young man says that he learned techniques in the internship that he will be able to teach even his elders, such as the right way to mix paint and “remove the paint from the bucket to the roller”.
The company NAP Service, in Chibia, welcomed 12 interns in the areas of civil construction, electricity, painting, carpentry and metalwork, according to the Director, Ngola Paciência.
“We, as a company, are flattered because we are giving our contribution to the formation of national people,” said Ngola. "One of the great difficulties that the country is going through is the lack of jobs, so projects of this nature come in a way to encourage the creation of self-employment and this ends up contributing directly to the economy," he continued.
Ngola also called for other entrepreneurs to open their doors to interns, mainly because Angola “is and will be in reconstruction for a long time”, so there is space for everybody.
Fátima Abel already wants to reserve her space. The 27-year-old woman dreams of opening a restaurant and is memorizing every lesson of the internship in the kitchen of the Vanjul restaurant, in Matala. “Here I learned things from how to treat customers, to how to treat food,” explains Fátima. "I arrived here a little raw and I see that there is an improvement" in my performance.
The passion for the kitchen started when she was little girl, watching her mother cooking, and she is willing to work until she can start her own business. "It may not be a large restaurant, but something small," she says.