11/01/2011 - In January 2011, Aide et Action International, Schneider Electric and the Schneider Electric Foundation drew up a six-month progress report of their joint program to promote vocational training in construction skills in Haiti. Signatories to the agreement included the French and Haitian education ministers and the rector of Quisqueya University. The first anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake provides an opportunity to focus on an initiative that is working, even as reconstruction has been slow to get started.
Launched in September 2010, the electrical skills training program in Haiti is producing tangible results. “So far, 40 Haitians are enrolled in the first level of electrical training offered by the project; they will be operational in March 2011,” notes Gilles Vermot Desroches, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Development at Schneider Electric and Managing Director of the Schneider Electric Foundation.
“These young people are the first participants in a program that intends to formalize and develop the skills sets of more than 2,000 trained construction workers over a period of two years to help rebuild the country,” adds Claire Calosci, CEO of Aide et Action International.
These initial results were made possible by the efforts of a number of committed individuals, including four French trainers who arrived in September 2010 thanks to support from the French Education Ministry’s Jules Verne international mobility program for teachers. The trainers, specialized in electricity, civil engineering and carpentry, are participating in the development of training programs with Quisqueya University, Haiti’s national vocational training institute (INFP) and Aide et Action.
The vocational training project revolves around the creation of technical centers to pool construction-related resources and skills. Initial and ongoing training for lasting job opportunities will be organized within this framework and curricula covering electricity, carpentry, building and public works will be deployed across the country.
In 2011, the project will roll out new courses, train trainers and create mobile units to provide access to training around the country with support from its current partners and other corporate sponsors, drawn notably from carpentry and building and public works. The project calls for the construction of a nationwide system backed by a central skills-set institute and satellites to train trainers.
All of this responds to a critical need. Nearly 250,000 people lost their lives in the January 12, 2010 earthquake and 60% of the buildings in the capital city of Port-au-Prince were destroyed. A full 80% of the buildings in Léogâne are either no longer standing or hazardous. The majority of public buildings and institutions were damaged. With more than 4,000 schools in ruins in Port-au-Prince, the educational system has been devastated.
An estimated 20 million cubic meters of rubble will have to be removed before rebuilding can even begin. And the country remains a major seismic risk zone. Even before the January 12 earthquake, Haiti had a shortage of qualified labor and certified skills in the construction industry. The existing vocational training was either insufficient or poorly adapted.
Aide et Action and the Schneider Electric Foundation already work together in southern India to provide vocational training for young people in a region hit hard by the tsunami of December 2004. The partners’ success there led them to consider developing a similar project in Haiti.
Present in Haiti since 1989 with a local team, Aide et Action is well aware of the population’s recently expressed expectations and has called for the international community to move quickly in helping to rebuild the country.
The association has published a full report of its work in Haiti in the December 2010 issue of Aide et Action Haiti magazine, as well as on its website (www.aide-et-action.org/haiti-1an.php) (french only).
The project’s partners
The agreement to support vocational training in construction skills was signed on July 1, 2010 by Luc Chatel, France’s Minister of Education, Youth and Voluntary Service; Joël Desrosiers Jean-Pierre, Haiti’s Minister of Education and Vocational Training; Jean-Pascal Tricoire, President and CEO of Schneider Electric; Jacky Lumarque, Rector of Quisqueya University and Frédéric Naquet, President of Aide et Action International.
About Aide et Action
Since it was founded in 1981, Aide et Action (www.aide-et-action.org/english/) has expanded to reach twenty-six countries worldwide located in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Through nearly 100 programs and with the help of its partners, Aide et Action has improved access to quality education for more than five million children and adults. Monitored closely by Comité de la Charte in France (a member of the International Committee on Fundraising Organisations) for private donations and/or publicly recognized contributions, Aide et Action is supported by close to 63,000 sponsors and donors. Officially approved by the French Ministry of Education, Aide et Action works towards a world where dignity is guaranteed to everyone through education and strengthening human development. Free from any political or religious attachments, our commitment to worldwide development issues is founded, above all, on the values of liberty, respect, solidarity, equality and integrity.
About Schneider Electric
As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation and data centers/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable and efficient, the Company's more than 100,000 employees achieved sales of more than €15.8 billion in 2009 through an active commitment to helping individuals and organisations "Make the most of their energy™".
About the Schneider Electric Foundation
From transmitting knowledge to sharing energy, the Schneider Electric Foundation plays an active role in Schneider Electric’s commitment to sustainable development. Created in 1998 under the aegis of the Foundation de France, the Schneider Electric Foundation participates in projects that emphasize sustainable and practical training and job opportunities for young people, primarily in energy related careers, education for sustainable development through innovative projects and support for emergency operations following natural disasters, always with a focus on fostering the personal, long-term involvement of its employees worldwide.