Vocational Training with the LWF Jerusalem Program
The Vocational Training Program (VTP), one of the LWF-Jerusalem’s oldest projects, has been providing vocational training to Palestinian youth since 1949. The VTP began as the Lutheran Trade School on the grounds of the Augusta Victoria Hospital. Originally, three-year training programs were offered in carpentry, auto-mechanics, and metalwork. The Lutheran Trade School was renamed the Vocational Training Center, and in 1964 the Center moved from the Augusta Victoria Campus to a new and larger facility just to the north of Jerusalem in Beit Hanina. At that time, the LWF was assisted by the Swedish Lutherhjalpen to build the new facility, which included the capacity for 150 boarding students.
In the 1960s, the VTP included a program for the training of the blind in weaving and brush making. This led to the establishment of the Sheltered Workshops for the Blind in 1968.
The Vocational Training Program expanded in 2004, adding a new project, the Vocational Training Center in Ramallah (VTCR). The VTCR was established with a focus on the concepts of apprentice training and satellite outreach to small and isolated villages.
In 2012, the VTP began a new chapter in its history with the opening of three new departments: catering and craftwork departments in Beit Hanina and a vocational secretary department at the VTCR. These departments have significantly increased the VTP’s outreach to women. The VTP celebrated the graduation of its 63rd class in 2015. The 227 graduates, 46 of whom were female, were honored with speeches, music, awards, and their hard-earned diplomas at Ramallah's Cultural Palace. In 2015, 16 short courses were held to reach more youth in remote villages and refugee camps, as well as in both centers.
- Women's Training
Vocations such as metalwork, carpentry, auto mechanics, and plumbing are not considered to be culturally acceptable for Palestinian women at this point in time. However, the electronics/telecommunication industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the occupied Palestinian Territories, and is a culturally acceptable industry for women to work in. Additionally, the craftworks and catering industries also attract many female students to the VTP.
By actively encouraging women to take part in vocational training in this sector, the VTP hopes to encourage gender equity in an area which is very highly demanded by the labor market.
- VTP Mission Statement
The LWF Vocational Training Program in Palestine operates vocational training centers and an outreach program through the Lutheran World Federation Department for World Service in Jerusalem and in cooperation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). The Mission of the LWF/DWS is to provide programs that promote poverty alleviation, justice, peace, human rights and nation-building as witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The LWF Vocational Training Program, operating since 1949, furthers this mission by empowering Palestinian youth, particularly the needy and refugees with a focus on women, by providing vocational training that results in graduates contributing positively to their civil society. The VTP will be committed to the highest quality of vocational training within the available resources. This training will be relevant to the needs of the local labor market. This is carried out without regard to race, creed, color, sex, national origin or political affiliation.
The VT Program will demonstrate its Christian witness through its support of the LWF and ELCJHL in their efforts to promote reconciliation and understanding among all people.
The VT Program will value the accomplishments of its personnel and will also demonstrate its Christian witness through the spirit of its personnel.
The Vocational Training Program will fulfill its mission in a fiscally responsible manner in order to continue to move towards increased self-reliance and sustainability.
Established in 2004 to reach students throughout Palestine, the VTCR is based on two concepts new to the VTP: apprentice training and satellite outreach training in villages.
The VTCR offers training in telecommunications, auto-mechanics, carpentry and aluminum. About 60 trainees are trained annually, a group that includes both males and females. Upon completion of its first year in August 2005, the VTCR graduated its first group of trainees who were part of the VTP’s 53rd graduating class.
The apprenticeship program is a community-based training system in which trainees complete their education at the VTCR as well as through apprenticeships at local businesses. This is the first of such a program to be implemented in Palestine. Sixty-seven percent of graduates were employed within two months of graduation.
Satellite training is designed as short technical courses linked with entrepreneurial skills and internships. Training is done in villages that suffer from the political and economical situation in Palestine. Satellite training aims to offer trainees a means for income generation, as work has become scarce in towns affected by the Separation Wall.
The VTC in Beit Hanina trains more than 150 students each year in a two-year educational program. Trainees can choose from the fields of carpentry, metalwork, auto mechanics, electronics, telecommunications, and plumbing and central heating. The VTC also offers on-site boarding to trainees who come from far-flung areas of Palestine or who are unable to easily access the school because of the Separation Wall and military checkpoints.
The VTC established the department of telecommunications after a 1997 study indicated an interest in vocational training among schoolgirls for the 11th and 12th grades and a lack of willingness on the part of the girls’ families to let them participate in traditional vocational training.