On Thursday, November 19, 2015, the United States Embassy kicked-off the Vocational Pathways Working Group. The working group had a major turn out in attendance from the Cameroon government, diplomatic missions, U.S. companies and vocational school representatives including the Cameroon Ministry of Basic Education, Cameroon Ministry of Vocation and Employment, OIC Buea, Motorola, the German Ambassador to Cameroon and representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom, Japanese and Swiss missions.
United States Embassy, Facilities Manger, Kevin Mallek, opened the working group meeting by stating “On behalf of Ambassador Hoza, thank you for taking part in this very important working group meeting today. You, in this room, are leading the charge in building the middle class. Vocational education is the key to growing the economy. You can’t build a business without the carpenter, you can’t light the offices without the electrician and you can’t drive to work without the mechanics. The U.S. Embassy couldn’t carry out its mission without my staff of over 60 individuals who tend to this building on a daily basis.”
The working group was in unanimous agreement that the major obstacles facing technical education in Cameroon are stigma tied to pursuing a technical education and a lack of modern equipment for training in vocational schools. Olive Bume Ada, Managing Director with Bano Plus Cam. LTD said “ Most Cameroonian parents want their children to have white collar jobs. Technical schools are seen as an option for those who fail, but, in reality, they are for everyone. You don’t go to a technical school to be a mechanic in a shop. You go to start your own auto shop. That is the image that we must support, starting with talking to the parents.”
U.S. companies were in agreement that there is a desperate need for workers to carry out their projects. Nabil Saimi, Platinum Power and Brookstone Partners Ventures (NYC) said “ U.S. companies have over $400 million in contracts, ready to go in Cameroon. The problem is, we can’t find workers to carry out those contracts. We are not thinking short-term. We are thinking long-term. We need a strategy to not only find workers but to create jobs for the future youth of Cameroon.”
The Vocational Pathways Working Group chose to focus its initial efforts in revamping the image of technical education in Cameroon. SEE Facebook album of program: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10156232920395716.1073742128.312546460715&type=3.