Vocational Training Conference held to benefit Bethlehem Youth

The Council of Employment and Local Training in the Bethlehem Governorate held its first annual conference on the role of vocational education and training in development and employment.

Their goal was to promote the importance of vocational training in strengthening the local economy.

Opening Events of the Conference

The conference was held in the halls of the Palestinian Vladimir Putin Building. It was attended by Governor of Bethlehem Governorate, Major General Jabrin Al-Bakri, Director General of Employment at the Ministry of Labor Rami Mahdawi and Representative of German Cooperation in Palestine Linda Al-Azza, as well as many official figures from the directors of the security services and ministries in Bethlehem Governorate. Legal figures and the institutions that have benefitted from the programs and projects of the Local Operating Council also attended.

Events began with a minute of mourning for the Palestinians who have died with the Palestinian National Anthem. Following was a welcome by the Coordinator of the Employment and Vocational Training Council in Bethlehem, Ayman Odeh. He welcomed the audience and spoke during his interventions as a moderator of the ceremony about the establishment of the council and its work in previous years. He also talked about his vision for the Ministry of Labor, specifically its efforts in combating poverty and unemployment through the adaptation of vocational training commensurate with the needs of Palestinian society.

Referring to Al-Bakri, Odeh talked about his keenness to ensure that the vocational training is part of the strategiv plan for development in the Bethlehem Governorate. Various agencies, partners and supporters of the council were praised as well.

Al-Bakri: The percentage of vocational and technical training should be raised to 50 percent in the community

Governor of Bethlehem Governorate Major General Jabreen al-Bakri talked about the strategic plan prepared by the province for development in the coming years. He stressed that the plan included items related to promoting vocational training and advancement in the Bethlehem Governorate.

Al-Bakri heads the Vocational Training and Training Council in the province. He said that vocational training can play an important role in the Bethlehem governorate because of its economic and tourist potential. He outlined his plan to strengthen vocational training that included an industrial school preparing to purchase a piece of land for the vocational training center of the Palestinian ministry of labor.

In collaboration with diplomats from Belgium, al-Bakri is also creating a project that provides vocational training for people with disabilities.

Tourism was also detailed, as Bethlehem hosts 62 hotels and 25 guest houses. Al-Bakri hopes to develop this field with trained professionals working in this field.

Stone is also an important field for economic growth in domestic and international markets.

Stressing that Bethlehem Governorate needed to develop these areas, al-Bakri talked about adding these training programs to programs in the already established university and vocational training system. Though some of these institutions have already seen benefits because of earlier training programs.

Al-Bakri hopes that German and EU cooperation will help the local employment and training council to be able to work within the framework of a comprehensive development plan that will bring the number of students in the professional field from 10 percent to 50 percent. This is in order to reduce unemployment and strengthen the economy.

Meaning that the government is calling students to go to vocational training because of the market’s need for skilled workers at the local and national level.

Finally, al-Bakri wished the best for whatever the outcome of the conference may be. He thanked the German and EU cooperation and support as well as all the parties who worked with the council.

Rami Mahdawi, Director General of Employment at the Ministry of Labor said that he was happy to be present in Bethlehem and happy to attend this conference after the first one in Hebron. He also expressed his appreciation for the efforts and work of the Governor of Bethlehem.

The Ministry of Labor, in accordance with its vision, is working to achieve and establish professional and non-traditional training and employment councils. Mahdawi stressed that Bethlehem starts again with a new vision through the cooperation of different parties and its keenness on the idea of enhancing vocational training.

Mahdawi highlighted that the Ministry of Labor restructured its employment department in order to serve the community in professional areas. The ministry of labor has been working to find programs that can contribute to improving the employment rate.

The reality, Mahdawi says, is that the current university system leads to an increase in the number of graduates that cannot be absorbed into the labor market.

The ministry will work to restructure the goals of the employment department to be able to work according to the needs of the labor market through development projects alongside groups like the Bank of Palestine, which allocated $50 million for loans to small and medium enterprises.

Working in the disability employment sector, Mahdawi hopes that Bethlehem, which is home to many institutions working in the field of disability, can become an important region for employing those with disabilities.

Finally, Mahdawi also thanked the German and EU for supporting the operating councils. He also thanked the public and private sector institutions. He said that the ministry cannot work to promote vocational training by itself, and so partnerships among the various sectors are that much more important.

In his speech, Salman Farajin said that in recent years, the ministry has given vocational training a great deal of interest. Working with various programs an Palestinian Universities, Farajin has made efforts to counter the idea that vocational training is inferior.

The ministry has made efforts and programs to encourage vocational training through courses that allow students to receive vocational training in multi-faceted areas. The Ministry of Education has also purchased five dunums in Bethlehem Governorate for the construction of an industrial school which will be the first of its kind.

Al-Azza: German cooperation supports many programs in the field of vocational training

In a speech given on behalf of the Director of the German Vocational Training Program, Mohamed Al-Malki, Linda Al-Azza said Bethlehem received a distinguished set of projects. These came through the Association for Community Development in Palestine along with various universities and training centers.

Al-Azza spoke about the intricacies of the projects that have been carried out with German assistance. They have helped to promote the status of vocational training as an important and vital area that can contribute to the development of the economy and provide employment opportunities for young people.

There have been a total of 71 such programs, with 58 vocational training programs. At this stage, 30 interventions are being implemented to increase the institutional and technical capacities of the local training councils.

Details of the first conference for vocational and technical training

After the official opening of the conference, the first session dealt with the role of the boards of operating and training in development and employment. This was presented by Mr. Khaled Shana’a.

A film was shown about the work of the Local Council for Training and Employment in Bethlehem.

Dr. Mohammed Shariata presented a paper on unemployment and employment information among young people in Bethlehem. Mr. Ala Adaily also presented a paper on the reality of TVET in Bethlehem.

Different models for vocational education and training were proposed in the third session. Also discussed were the successes and drawbacks of VET institutions in Bethlehem from participants in the programs.

Following the closing of the sessions, the final remarks were recommendations to improve the vocational training sector by taking advantage of previous experiences and learning lessons, while also relying on the needs and reality of Bethlehem.