International network brings craft workers together

Project description

Title: Strengthening innovative approaches between the German skilled trades sector and international VET cooperation partners
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Germany, sub-Saharan Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa
Overall term: 2016 to 2020



Business is booming in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in increased demand for qualified workers. Currently, many countries lack the well-qualified professionals they need to successfully make use of their economic potential. Local companies are rarely integrated into vocational education and training, and young people lack the practical skills needed to work in the skilled trades, where demand is particularly high.

Practical vocational education and training in the skilled trades is a key factor in long-term economic development. Craft businesses need to be involved in designing this training if they are to train apprentices in line with future requirements and with a view to future challenges. Over the long term, this will require improved cooperation between companies and vocational training organisations.


Better training in craft businesses improves young people’s opportunities on the labour market and enables them to contribute to the economic development of their companies and countries.



GIZ is implementing the project jointly with the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH). The project brings together German craft businesses and organisations with small and medium-sized craft companies and vocational training centres in sub-Saharan Africa for the purpose of launching international business and learning partnerships. The activities are tailored to the needs of local partners, and the network cooperates with GIZ projects in Africa to this end.

To gain German businesses for the network, the project presents its work at events and in print and online media and provides information on ways of getting involved in development cooperation. Short courses and e-learning teach interested skilled tradespeople how they can pass on their knowledge in the partner countries. They then share their experience directly in short-term assignments at a local company or vocational training organisation.

Parallel to this, German and African countries can network across borders through a matching platform. The platform compares the database profiles of the German skilled craft workers and, based on matches, proposes appropriate assignments in development cooperation projects involving African businesses and vocational training centres. Through regular matching trips, the project establishes initial face-to-face contact between German experts from various trades and African businesses and vocational training organisations.


German and African craft businesses and vocational training organisations independently exchange ideas with one another in business and learning partnerships. They work together across borders, strengthening their personal and professional development in the process. 

Around 60 skilled workers from a range of skilled trades, including woodworking and metalworking, automotive and electrical engineering, renewable energy and plumbing, heating and air conditioning, are currently actively involved and have undergone training. In more than 25 short-term assignments, they have been able to pass on their knowledge to up to 15 local experts in each training session and so to improve vocational education at local level.

Some 30 experts have already taken part in matching trips to Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda and are now independently involved in African companies, vocational training institutions and skilled crafts and trades projects. Three permanent company partnerships have been established so far, with a further ten at the development stage.


Additional information