4 years of EU-Egypt vocational training

Representatives of the Egyptian government, the European Union, and the chamber of commerce, met on Sunday to commemorate four years of cooperation in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform Program, a six-year-long coordinated project between the government of Egypt and the European Union that aims to improve workers’ skills and expand trade between the two parties.

“The TVET Reform Program is among the most important programs for modernizing the Egyptian economy," said Minister of Industry and Trade Rachid Mohamed Rachid at the event. "It is vital for the development of our industries and for cooperation in trade between Egypt and the EU. It has proven to be of the utmost importance in improving the quality, marketing, sales and exports of goods and services.” The TVET Reform Program began in 2005 and is set to expire in 2011.

Rachid added that the program has directly assisted the development of the Egyptian economy over the past four years and will continue to do so in the future. “It has paved the way for additional investments, and new markets for the export of Egyptian goods,” the minister said, minister stressing that the development of vocational skills is the most important element in competition.

“Nothing else can solve our economic problems. We must offer our youth and children the opportunity to develop their professional and vocational skills for the sake of improving our future prospects.”

The TVET Reform Program was proposed in 2002 on the basis of market studies conducted by the World Bank and EU. According to literature distributed at the event, TVET Reform is “demand-driven” and is described as a “win-win situation.” The benefits of this program are said to include partnerships between companies, access to technology, the opening of new markets, outsourcing labor, guaranteeing quality of services, raising the value of products, reducing costs, accessing public markets, sharing investment risks, co-branding/co-advertising, and enhancing distribution.

EU Ambassador to Egypt Marc Franco praised the program. “I have only been in this post for four months, but I have already felt the positive impact of these common accomplishments between Egypt and the EU.” Franco said he expects further positive developments from the TVET Reform Program through its two remaining years of existence.

The TVET Reform Program is fueled by a 66 million Euro budget from the Egyptian government and the European Commission. The stated overall objective of this program is to improve the competitiveness of Egyptian enterprises in domestic and international markets, while its specific objective is to support the development of human and institutional capacities.

While TVET Reform has been dubbed a success for states, businesses, and workers, its actual impact is questionable, especially considering its modest budget over six years. Statesmen and businessmen sung praises for the TVET Reform Program in the conference hall of a five star hotel, but no workers were present to speak of their experiences with this program or to assess its outcomes.

In terms of its achievements TVET Reform is said to have succeeded in the vocational training of 13,642 Egyptian workers over the course of four years.

During this same period the program is said to have engaged over 200 stakeholders, established 12 sectoral enterprise TVET partnerships, eight local enterprise TVET partnerships, three sectoral training councils, and over 100 in-company training centers. The reform program is also reported to have prepared 3,350 master trainers, tutors and trainers, upgraded 29 training workshops and 28 technical secondary schools.

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