Matching Education with Market Need
Nearly 40 percent of Cameroon’s 25 million residents live below the poverty line—and every day, almost 4 million face food insecurity. Just outside the capital city of Yaoundé, an updated, state-of-the-art training program run by Salesian missionaries promises to address these challenges—by elevating employment prospects for marginalized youth.
“So many parents in this area depend on their children to help support their families, which means school just isn’t a priority for them,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “But the money these children do earn—much of it in the commercial sector—barely covers the cost of daily food. Without education, breaking that endless cycle of poverty is impossible.”
Since 1992, and in partnership with Mary Help of Christians parish, missionaries at Don Bosco Mimboman have been helping the local population overcome these challenges through vocational and technical training. The area has some established industry, so Salesian missionaries are able to focus on programs that prepare students for in-demand professions such as audio–visual editing.
Currently enrolled students are learning advanced skills on the latest technology platforms. When they graduate in nine months, they will do so with a state-issued Diploma of Professional Qualification. Then they will have the support of Don Bosco Mimboman’s job-placement office, which fosters and maintains internship opportunities with private companies in need of skilled labor. Once graduates begin working, program staff maintain contact and offer ongoing support to ensure long-term success.
“Programs like this are a hallmark of Salesian-run professional training opportunities around the world,” says Fr. Gus. “Because Salesian missionaries live in the communities in which they serve, they understand the area’s unique market conditions, and work to match vocational training with employer needs. This helps youth experience a smooth school-to-work transition, and ultimately creates a win-win situation.”
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