Four months ago, a group of 30 Vietnamese youth arrived at the doors of the A Dong vocational school in Saigon (HCMC), hungry for an education and a shot at a stable livelihood. None of these youth really knew each other. Some were from right in the city, passing through A Dong’s school gates for the very first time; others came from distant villages. All were looking forward to a change in their lives, and all formed the first cohort of VNHELP’s new pilot vocational project, which aims to train disadvantaged youth to become skilled motorbike mechanics.
Over the course of four months, from February to May, the youth learned motorbike maintenance, repair, painting and refurbishing for both manual and automatic motorbikes. To minimize the distractions and make sure the students were in the best possible learning environment, VNHELP covered full tuition, boarding and food expenses for two warm meals a day. For those who had to travel into the city, we also covered transportation expenses. In total the youth studied for 540 hours–not including the complimentary extra curricular hours, which many elected to join. 150 hours were devoted to theory, and 390 hours were focused on applied knowledge and practical training.
By the end of May, 26 students passed the class with a score of 93% or higher on their final exams. Two students had to leave due to personal circumstance and two came to realize that mechanics was not their true calling. Nonetheless, that’s still about an 87% success rate, which is pretty darn good for a pilot project. All successful graduates received nationally-recognized certification of their skills and the best received a special tool kit as a reward.
But it’s really what comes after the course’s end where we measure the project’s true impact. At VNHELP, we believe in not just giving skills, but in providing concrete employment opportunities as well. When we partnered with the A Dong vocational school, we wanted to ensure that graduates could find jobs immediately after graduation. So this pilot project was built on the concepts of demand-driven solutions and community-corporate partnerships: With motorbikes being such a market force in Vietnam–33.4 million motorbikes on the roads, as of August 2011–the need for skilled mechanics is high. And given the high quality of A Dong’s curriculum and teaching, companies like Honda and Yamaha are all too eager to scoop up our graduates upon the training’s completion.
20 of the 26 graduates decided to take up offers to work as mechanics for major motorbike firms. The remaining 6 decided to return to their villages to start their own mechanic shops or join local shops. For those who want to start their own businesses, there is a chance to join our microfinance program.
With one cycle of vocational training complete, we’re proud to announce that a 2nd round of training will soon be commencing. We’re in the process of fundraising for many cycles to come, and we also want to explore other emerging industries to design vocational projects. If you’re interested in giving someone the skills and opportunities that’ll change a life, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be glad to chat with you.