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VVOB is contributing to strengthening Ecuador’s TVET system in Manabí, the province most affected by the destructive earthquake in April. In the short-term, we released additional funds and redirected existing ones to mount an emergency education response together with the other members of the national Education Cluster. We are also establishing sustainable partnerships between secondary technical schools and businesses to improve the quality and ensure the pertinence of the country’s technical education system.

Such a partnership between VVOB, Schneider Electric and the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) in the area of electricity is already up and running, with results coming in soon. This partnership is supported on a regional scale too, more specifically by the experts from Brazil’s National Service for Industrial Training Organisation (SENAI). In another successful effort to build sustainable relationships between the public and private sector, VVOB, MINEDUC and IdealAlambrec Bekaert signed an agreement in July.

Partnering with the private sector

The earthquake in April caused nearly 3.5 million dollars’ worth of damages and reconstruction of the affected infrastructure will take years. In this context, the demand for skilled construction workers has soared, yet at TVET level there is currently no adequate training in place that can deliver these builders. IdealAlambrec Bekaert, MINEDUC and VVOB are joining forces to develop a specialised training in Construction that will not only offer the labour market the skilled workers it needs, but that will also offer TVET students a quality education and job opportunities.

Over the past few years, VVOB has been supporting TVET schools and MINEDUC in forming partnerships with private enterprises and other specialised institutions. We are first and foremost an organisation that cooperates with and builds the capacity of education structures and systems already in place. Thus, we are perceived as a legitimate and trustworthy partner by local governments.

Earthquake-resistant homes

VVOB, IdealAlambrec Bekaert and MINEDUC will implement a post-secondary 7th year (locally called a Bachillerato Técnico Productivo) in Construction in two secondary technical schools in Manabí. During this specialisation year, students engage in workplace learning to gain experience in the latest technologies and methods. That is why partnerships between schools and businesses willing to train their students are crucial. After the earthquake hit Ecuador earlier this year, IdealAlambrec Bekaert jumped on board. They brought their prototype of an earthquake-resistant building with them, which had won a prize in a competition organised by the national government in 2013. The teachers of and students enrolled in the Construction training will use this prototype.

VVOB contributes to the progress of the project in four ways. Firstly, we will support the acquisition of construction materials and equipment. Secondly, we will play an important role in designing and distributing teaching materials for building a ‘model earthquake-resistant house’. Thirdly, we will support IdealAlambrec Bekaert in implementing the agreement and ensure constructive cooperation between the parties. Lastly, and crucially, we will build the capacity of district-level officials to take over this ‘mediator’ role, to secure the sustainability of the project.

Modest project, big impact

In practice, four teachers will receive a two-week intensive course on IdealAlambrec Bekaert premises to improve their professional competencies. The students enrolled in the training, around 50 people, will benefit from hands-on construction experience on-site. An important part of the Construction training will cover the national safety regulations in place. During the first year of the partnership, 550 earthquake-resistant homes will be built in the area. The first phase of the project is relatively modest, because the implementation of the Construction training in Ecuador is still in its infancy.

Through partnerships with the private sector, the supply of education is fitted to the demand of the labour market. VVOB is therefore engaging in and expanding its partnerships with the corporate sector, both in Ecuador and elsewhere. In selecting our partners, we uphold the highest possible standards with respect to corporate social responsibility and always apply principles of due diligence and caution.