Vplus vocational training for young people with disabilities, at Gulu Disabled Persons Union, has been completed. This programme is supported by the UK based charity ETC of PWD and match funded by UK Aid. We are now fully into the Post Training Support programme.
Tracer studies are the backbone of post training support. As name suggests, it’s about tracing trainees; where are they now, what are they doing, what extra support do they need? And, of course it’s a vital form of feedback on that their earlier training programme: what worked and what didn’t what should be changed next time?
All of the information below comes from recent field reports by the Vplus team as they go about Post Training Support.
Tracer Studies: how do they work?
The main aim of these Tracer Studies is to find the 66 Vplus youth from Cohort 2 of the programme. Actually, given the nature of their locations and forms of activity, it also involves trainees from Cohort 1 and even those we supported during the etc@gdpu programme some years ago. Tracer Studies take three forms:
- Home visit.
- Phone calls.
- Visits to workstations.
And cover the following Districts:
- Gulu with 16 students,
- Gulu City with 28 students,
- Nwoya with 4 students,
- Omoro with 9 students,
- Kitgum with 2 students,
- Amuru with 5 students and
- Pader with 2 students.
Objectives of the Tracer Studies.
- To help identify and locate where our beneficiaries are working from or staying.
- To check on the different activities our students are directly involved in after completing their skills training.
- To identify the success, gaps and challenges our beneficiaries are going through in regards to employment, and skills.
- To support and guide our students in stages of their business plan development and implementation.
- To check on any safeguarding issues our beneficiaries are facing and offer all forms of supports and referrals.
Statistics from the Tracer Studies
60 youth were followed up, through the different methods listed above.
In Cohort 2, 22 out of 66 beneficiaries are employed by others. The highest number of employed are from Motorcycle Repair and Maintenance and Hairdressing courses.
In Cohort 2, 13 out of 66 beneficiaries are self-employed in three areas: Electronic Repair and Maintenance; Tailoring; and Decoration and Design.
25 out of 66 beneficiaries are still unemployed: 15 females and 10 males. Some are still in the process of job search. Others are planning to start their own businesses, mostly through parental support and the Revolving Capital Loan, especially for Sweater Weaving.
Sweater Weaving is a seasonal business that won’t start until schools go back after the Ebola outbreak shutdown (in February). We are also still in the peak period for farming and many trainees have to work on family concerns. Parents are waiting for money to come back from farming before they can support their child..
6 out of 66 students are not have not yet been traced but the team are working hard to reach out to them.
Some Examples and Case Studies from the Tailoring course:
Tailoring was a new addition to the Vplus programme, with a new instructor (an ex- graduate). After evaluation and discussion with past trainees we realised that Tailoring could be an employment route in some contexts. In the past Tailoring has been put down, certainly Gulu Town is overloaded with tailors, but as we have discovered, away from the town the picture is different.
11 students graduated from this course with a total of 4 employed and 4 self- employed and 3 only unemployed. As the Tracer Studies have shown, there is a high demand for tailoring in the rural communities.
A Case Study in Tailoring: Lakica Sharon
Lakica Sharon lives in Odek sub-county and trained in tailoring at GDPU under Vplus. She has strong support from her parents, they have done all they can to empower their daughter to earn a dignified life.
During the visit the Vplus team saw how she communicates well with customers bringing in clothes for repair; she has challenged the stereotypes people have about people with disabilities. Sharon has made UGX 20,000 from minor repair of clothes, usually costing UGX 500 to 1000/. You can now imagine how busy she is in the village, the next tailor within the village is about 5km away.
A Case Study in Tailoring: Achiro Joyce
Achiro Joyce, is a mother of one child and lives in Palara village, Odek, 6 km from Acet trading center. She rents her sewing machine from a neighbour for UGX 20,000 per month, although this is high she did not refuse because she wants to work. Her workplace is just under a tree, near the road side alongside her family home.
The Vplus team managed to meet her parents and they expressed interest in the Revolving Capital Loan scheme to get a machine for their daughter. Joyce is very happy with the change she has experienced in her life she managed to make UGX 35,000 within two weeks of her work.
- 8 graduates are employed directly in tailoring.
- Another good example: Lanyero Scovia from Omoro Omony Jubi village, her parent bought a second hand sewing machine at a cost of UGX 200,000 and she has started working at home.
- Students are learning new skills from the engagement they have with others and the work that they are doing, especially those employed by others.
- We have witnessed improved livelihood in the families of the youth who completed their training and are working.
- Trainees still have gaps in skills and knowledge about maintenance and minor repairs of the sewing machine. For example Achiro from Odek, said she cannot mend machines herself and only one person who can repair machines, and she has to move 6 km to Acet center to find him.
- Heavy rainfall affects a number of the youth in the rural centres, because they work under trees and in front of houses.
- It’s a farming season, people are planting and harvesting which cuts the number of customers they receive.
- Commitments at home, like farming and cooking, have prevented number of students from getting employment.
- High levels of poverty mean trainees cannot afford to buy equipment and materials.
- Trainees have Skill gaps in making other fashions, like Gomez, (the traditional dresses for formal occasions), shorts, etc
- Recording the transactions made in the record book is still a big gap.
- Training on repair and maintenance skills.
- Trainees need more training on book keeping.
- To support youth who are interested in the Revolving Capital
- Support visit by GDPU instructors to selected youth who need support in identified gaps and demands from their communities.
Although many graduates live with their families, they are still vulnerable, often from members of their extended family. Tracer Studies are also support visits, and will include Guidance Counsellors amongst the team. Sadly, these visits often uncover significant safeguarding issues.
Recent trips have included supporting parents and trainees in reporting abuse by other members of the family, helping to collect evidence and present it to the Police, providing sign language interpreters for deaf graduates in liaising with the Police and in court, and continuous follow up after official involvement.
Safeguarding in this context is a very difficult area needing highly skilled people. GDPU programme officers are used to dealing with the communities involved and through constant training have become very skilled and experienced in this field.
As Post Training Support rolls out on the Vplus training programme across a wide area of Gulu and surrounding districts, it is great to hear these reports. We can see how the lives of these young people are developing as a result of the training and support they have been given. It is so heartening to see Vplus trainees take up new opportunities and cope with the challenges that life throws at them.
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