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Brief Report

BWI-FES Regional Seminar on

Vocational Training in Construction Industry

13-14 September 2007 Kathmandu, Nepal

The construction industry has witnessed tremendous growth over the last few years across the world. This rapid growth, however, is not at par with the training needs of the industry and workers. Thereby, a large workforce is being added on to the list of under and untrained and in the future might make them part of a very large redundant workforce.

In Asian-Pacific region also construction sector is booming and the challenge therefore is to improve the skills of the workers to make them competent for the global market. New technologies are coming up and not backed up by adequate training and also mentioned that certification should be globally recognized thereby enabling employability at a global scale.

The unions have also to modernize both services and organizational structures to make them relevant for the workers working in both home countries as well as abroad and brining substantial remittances to contribute to their home economies and social development. Only with the combined strength of affiliates the BWI expects to beef up its solidarity, more concrete actions and responsive structures and strong networks. With these issues in mind Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a joint training to enable the unions and workers to address their challenges.

Objectives of the Training

  • Review the working conditions of workers in construction industry,
  • Share the experience and good practices of each other,
  • Identify areas of training needs and skills enhancement, and
  • Discuss the suitability of various types of vocational training and union aids.


There were altogether 93 participants including 20 women across BWI Affiliates in the Asia/Pacific Region.

Resources Persons

Anita Normark, Antonio Asper, Shim Gyu Beom, Baik Seok Keun (South Korean Case), Shikha Jshi and Romila Parmar (SEWA's case study from India), Valentina Manurung (Aceh Program), Sharan KC (Mekong Region), Ambet Yuson and Klaus Wiesehugel.


The training methodology involved lecture presentation, questions and answers, case study, group discussion, recapitulation and presentation of group reports.


International and regional overview of the conditions of construction workers, vocational training and skill requirements, best practices and models of vocational training (union-led, bilateral, and tripartite), understanding of the different types of vocational training and skill development programs, union's role in vocational training, and experience of Germany in skills training in construction industry.


Participants found the program very useful and agreed that a) affiliates should further continue to exchange experiences among themselves; b) BWI to render technical support wherever possible and c) the Project Coordinators in the region shall assist unions in developing strategies for effective imparting of vocational training.

The BWI President, Klaus Wiesehugel sharing the experiences from Germany stressed that a holistic approach towards vocational training was important. This required considerable focus on both theoretical and practical aspects of vocational education. Therefore, it is necessary that a cohesive approach combining government initiatives to provide classroom education and backed by the industry to provide practical skills training in the factories should be evolved. He underlined that financing is obviously a big challenge but an agreeable mechanism to fund such initiatives could be discussed through tripartite dialogue between the government, industry and the trade unions.

The training called for assessment of skills of workers and fining ways to provide vocational training on a regular basis, initiate immediate dialogue with the Construction Industry Federations and government training institutes for starting need-base training programs, include health and safety standards as a part of skill-training programs, increase unions' cooperation with migrant workers and the government to provide resources on the issue of skills certification and take appropriate steps to make employability free from geographical barriers, etc.

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